Advice to help my autistic son with swimming


I have two sons who are autistic. My eldest son is 10 and is finding swimming lessons very stressful at the moment. He has a diagnosis of high functioning moderate autism and he has a lot of processing difficulties. 

We have tried other clubs (beavers, football, chess, pottery) all of which he found extremely stressfull so I stopped sending him. We have told him however that swimming is for safety so he has to learn to swim. 

He hasn’t had lessons (apart from school) for some time so we’ve put him in to one to one lessons. It is just him, his brother and sister each with a teacher in the pool and me watching. It is much quieter and calmer than his old lessons but he is still getting stressed about going.

I’d love to hear from others in the autistic community who have had similar experiences either with swimming or other activities that are stressful for them, and find out what they found helped them to cope better. What can I do as a parent to make him feel better about it? 

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  • Greetings. A lot of what I was going to say has been said by Emma and Cassandro, and so I support what they say. In addition, LIDOs and "Wild Swimming" are things to investigate - at quiet times. As Emma says, the Ocean is best. And as Cassandro says, there may be issues with Chlorine/Fluorine...

    ...I have wanted to post this for a while, and so I shall say it here. Some of us are happy in Real Water, yet unhappy with "treated water": You know of that uncomfortable feeling gained after being out in the rain and one's clothes are soaked through? Some of us get that afterwards just from being in Treated Water/Tap Water, even after a bath/shower. We do not mind Water, but do not like Fluorine/Chlorine Water, that is all.

    ...Lastly, most techniques can be practised by running a deep bath. It sounds silly, but it is true. Acclimatising to Cold Water, holding breath, or getting used to having the face upside-down yet underwater... and such like. (Before making the Harry Potter Film "Goblet of Fire", certain actors said that they became used to water and diving in this way... and so anyone who does that is in good company.)

    Above all of that, in generally "learning to swim", overcoming the face-in-the-water part is the most important, I would say. It can be a genuine fear for some, and so do this in a safe place (bath).  Good Luck and End of Post.

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