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Swim Tips for Kids with Sensory Sensitivities


Swimming plays in important social role for children during summer break, and it’s an activity that is good for both body and mind. According to the CDC, swimming can improve overall mood, reduce anxiety and help combat depression. The natural buoyancy of the water makes it a very relaxing summer activity. Unfortunately children with sensory sensitivities related to Processing Disorders and Asperger Syndrome may not enjoy all the benefits swimming has to offer due to a variety of aversions. These swimming tips for children with sensory issues may help.

Start in the Bathtub:

The size and noise of a recreational pool can be overwhelming to some sensitive children. By introducing baths and water play at home first, a child can acclimate to the feeling of water and splashing before diving into a bigger environment.

Heated Pools:

Getting into a cold pool can be miserable for anyone, and especially for children who have tactile sensory processing challenges. The initial temperature shock can be so overwhelming that a child can have a meltdown before even getting more than a toe in the water. Make sure the temperature of the pool is warm and inviting to ensure an enjoyable experience for all.

Water Shoes, Rash Guards, and Goggles:

Depending on the child, the proper attire can make swimming easier or worse. Experiment with various clothing options to see what works. A tight fitting (tag-free) rash guard may make a child feel more secure in the water and water shoes will minimize the feeling of the rough surface of some pools.

Visit During Off-Peak Times or Use a Friend's Backyard Pool:

For some children, the water may not be an issue but rather the noise and activity of crowds may be the primary deterrent. If swimming in a public pool. picking times early in the morning or late afternoon when crowds are minimal is the best approach. Backyard pools with just a few children are optimal for first time swimmers.

Teach Swimming Safety Skills:

Some children with sensory issues love the water and are unaware or have no ability to comprehend the possible danger of drowning. As such, it’s important that first and foremost these children are taught basic safety rules for in and around pools. Arrange swim classes with an instructor who has experience in dealing with children with special needs and who can make the class fun in a safe and controlled setting.

Take it Slow:

One of the best tips to help children with sensory sensitivities when trying new activities is to take it slow and let the child take the lead. Sometimes just feeling in control will help offset any anxious feelings and sensitivities that may arise during summertime activities.

Is it time to get help for your sensory sensitive child? If you suspect your child may need intervention, consider taking our online assessment or contacting a center near you to schedule a more comprehensive assessment. Summertime is the perfect time to complete The Brain Balance Program!

If your child struggles with processing sensory input or is already considered to have a processing disorder, contact us online or find a center near you to learn more about how the Brain Balance Program can help.

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