“Harness the unique properties of the water improve coordination and sensory processing”
What is the advantage of occupational therapy in the pool? The properties of water make the pool ideal for working on strength, endurance, bilateral coordination, sensory processing and motor planning.
1. Strengthening: Negotiating the water requires your child to use all of his/her muscles. Your child’s core, arms and legs, will become stronger using the natural resistance provided by the water.
2. Coordination: In addition to a strong core, swimming requires the coordination of all four limbs in many different combinations: symmetrical, asymmetrical, in-phase, out-of-phase, contralateral and ipsilateral. As your child learns new moves and exercises with with a variety of fun, resistive aquatic aids, , he/she will learn how to coordinate movement in multiple body parts at the same time, which is fundamental to coordination and motor planning.
3. Sensory input: Swimming is a natural way to get powerful sensory input in a short amount of time. The water itself provides deep pressure input to the whole body at once. Constant even water pressure can help decrease the tactile hypersensitivity that your child may experience out of the water. The water also provides proprioceptive input, which boosts body awareness and the sense of body position in space. Changing head position when swimming on the back, front, side, vertically and under water provides vestibular input , which also contributes to the sense of body position in space. Touch, proprioception and vestibular input are the building blocks of body awareness, sense of body position in space, motor planning and smooth motor coordination.
4. Social skills and communication: Eye contact and vocalization are often enhanced because of the intense yet calming influence of the water, and the natural boundaries of the pool.
What are the benefits of the pool for children with Autism?
A calming relaxing environment and success regardless of skill level, which is hard to come by in another milieu
Improved sensory processing, including tolerance to touch
Engagement and eye contact
Social participation: an entree into social interaction
Easing repetitive behaviors
Increased attention span
Create a lifelong habit of exercise and wellness to reduce later risks of obesity and heart disease
Where can I read more on swimming and autism?
4 reasons why you should teach your Autistic child to swim
How swimming boosts happiness for Autistic children
Sensory strategies for swimmers