April 2018: Creating Magic for Those on the Spectrum

April Autism Awareness Swimming Helps

April is Autism Awareness Month, & Water Can Do Wonders

Swimming and Autism Have you been following our #AtusimAwareness Monday posts this month? April has been named Autism Awareness Month, and we are learning the benefits of aquatics for patients with Autism or Sensory Disorders. Learn more now with our Aquatic Health Benefits Bulletin that focuses on the topic.

Spotlight on Aquatics & Autism & Sensory Disorders

The pool is a special place for children on the autism spectrum. For one, the potential for sensory modulation in the pool is almost unlimited. When working in water, it is possible for therapy to resemble fun and not exercise, especially if music and games are used to promote goals such as relaxation of facilitation. In the pool, it is possible to include both the mind and body in programming and thus tap into sensation, emotions, creativity, imagery, and relaxation.

Aquatic sessions can even become family events where siblings and parents are able to engage with children in an environment that serves as the great equalizer. Here are just a few of the benefits of aquatics available to the pediatrics population:

  • Application of weight-bearing in a graded or progressive manner;
  • Increase in proprioceptive awareness during exercise and functional task simulation;
  • Application of resistance in a graded or progressive manner;
  • Assistance in limb movements against gravity (assisted by buoyancy);
  • Encouragement of socialization in a “normal” recreational environment which offers noncompetitive fun and socialization;
  • Provision of safe environment in which to “fail”;
  • Provision of environment where competition and emulation of peers is natural;
  • Provision of environment where hydrostatic pressure provides natural resistance to inspiration;
  • Retardation of muscle atrophy and contractures which may occur in the absence of exercise;
  • Decrease in muscle tone and spasticity;
  • Provision of an environment which can eventually be “barrier-free” and free of assistive devices;
  • Provision of an environment in which it is possible to treat multiple problems at once without seeming like “work” to the child;
  • Provision of safety education in water to promote follow-through as adults.

Even schools are getting into the mix, with specialized “pool classrooms” being designed into autism rehabilitation centers. Although the pool is not a panacea, it does offer a unique opportunity to couple ease and effort, stimulation and relaxation and much more. And these amazing benefits can be as close at hand as the neighborhood swimming pool.

Browse the recent publications for this Aquatic Health Benefits Bulletin now.