Swimming Tips For Sensory Kids
Sensory Issues At Swimming Pool:
- The swimming pool can be a challenging environment for a person with sensory concerns/issues.
Sensory Challenges Include:
- The smell of chlorine
- The wet tiles
- The loud and echoing acoustics/noises
- The feel of the water (temperature and movement)
Benefits of Swimming:
- Swimming is one of the recommended sport for kids with sensory processing difficulties.
- It offers strength benefits, promotes cardiovascular endurance, provides proprioceptive feedback and tactile, vestibular, and auditory experience.
- And the most important bit is that is great fun!
Ideas to Help with Swimming:
1. Use a Visual Schedule:
- Visual schedules are a simple, highly successful tool for communicating routines and expectations to children.
- You can make the visual schedule waterproof for the pool and focus on safety expectations first!
2. Make a Routine:
- For many children with sensory processing issues, challenging/uncomfortable experiences can be made easier when the child knows exactly what to expect.
- Making a routine that has predictable activities and predictable expectations at the pool can help your child be at ease.
3. Use the Correct Equipment:
- Using the correct swimming equipment can go a long way toward making sensory input more tolerable for the tactile, visual, and auditory systems and can provide proprioceptive input for calming, too!
4. Stay Away from Peak Pool Times:
- Swimming pools during busy periods can be very loud and filled with people. If you have a child with auditory sensory issues this can be a huge challenge.
- You can try heading to the pool early in the morning or ask a staff member from the facility when the pool might be less busy.
5. Start The Process of Entering The Pool Slowly:
- If the pool has a ramp, this would be perfect! Have the child walk into the pool at their own pace.
- If this is not an option, try playing on poolside with your child's feet dangling in the water. You could have your child reaching in the water to fill sponges or squirt toys to get hands and arms wet.
6. Be Aware of the Warning Signs:
- Children with sensory difficulties may have trouble using words to express how they are feeling in a situation that feels challenging to them.
- Watch for changes in breathing, stressed facial expressions, avoidance of activities , crying or a death grip on the side of the pool . Being aware of and responding to these warning signs can help prevent further stress.