Make a Splash for Youth with Autism

Oct 28, 2011
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It’s no secret that I am not shy when discussing the benefits of swimming and water exercise for youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Many fitness experts regard swimming as one of the best forms of exercise. It is one of the few exercises in which all body parts are used at the same time. The water also creates natural resistance to build stronger muscles and it puts less wear and tear on the body joints. Water gives the body amazing input and is a huge sensory regulator for many children with Autism. At the end of our 2011 Summer Autism Fitness Camp I really felt the absence of a swimming pool fitness station. It was obvious how the children enjoyed their time in the pool and how the swimming clearly improved their motor skills, confidence and strength. It also leads to a noticeable decrease in self-stimulating behaviors. I have told many parents if given the “right” trainer and a swimming pool, we’ll improve many autistic symptoms and behaviors.

Like so many boys with ASD, Jake has boundless energy, inappropriate social skills and an impaired ability to communicate. When Jake returned for our fall session he hugged me and said “Swimming Suzanne.” There was no way his individualized three-hour fitness class could not include a pool and water exercise. It wasn’t easy finding an indoor pool with the needed hours and the availability for special needs children. Then, I finally met Mr. Sanjay Sukhramani, Owner of Quality Inn and Conference Center of Burr Ridge. I explained to Sanjay the behavioral, physical and social benefits that water therapy provides children with autism and Sanjay just smiled.

What has been such a challenge took only seconds for this insightful and successful businessman to understand. He quickly set up a workable solution to provide pool time for Jake and others with special needs. While the causes of autism are still unknown, there do exist effective therapies. There is no doubt swimming can improve the quality of life for certain individuals with ASD. So it’s time for all of us to learn from Sanjay, who generously offered the pool time and clearly makes decisions that benefit the community and its citizens. Let’s not continue to make bad and costly decisions when children’s healthy lives are at stake, but let’s give children with ASD the splash they need.

Author: suzanne

  • Marilyn Toscano

    Wow, what a fantastic idea! My appreciation to you and them coming.

  • Firstactress

    I love it.  And it’s true.