Though the reason is under debate, there’s no denying that the number of autism cases is on the rise. And while medical professionals and scientists figure out the true causes of the increase, parents of children with autism are left to find the most effective treatments for their child.
One excellent form of therapy for kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder is aquatic therapy. The practice helps improve many symptoms of autism—including limited motor functioning and sensory problems—while also helping children become better swimmers and safer in the water.
Here are a few key benefits. And for a far more extensive examination of how kids with autism can benefit from aquatic therapy, I highly recommend this all-inclusive guide.
Improves swim skills. The U.S. National Library of Medicine presents a study of occupational therapists and their perceptions on how aquatic therapy benefits kids with autism. In the study, the majority of therapists said aquatic therapy helped the kids improve their swim skills. This may seem like an obvious benefit, but it’s so important that it has to be mentioned. Water can be especially dangerous for children with autism and because of that being able to swim is an essential method of self-protection for them. When they spend time in aquatic therapy, they have more time to strengthen this essential skill.
Helps improve balance. As RecreationTherapy.com notes, first and foremost, aquatic therapy is a “fun and enjoyable experience” for children with autism. Of course, it also has many physical benefits. It’s a great way for kids with ASD to strengthen their muscles, which can help improve balance and range of motion.
Helps with sensory integration disorders. Many children with autism have sensory issues, and aquatic therapy can be an effective way to help manage them. This extensive presentation explains what kinds of activities are used in aquatic therapy to reduce sensory problems.
Improves oral motor skills. Some children with ASD have reduced oral motor skills. This means they might have trouble blowing out candles, using a straw, sticking out their tongue, and so on. Time in aquatic therapy can be a great way to develop these skills. Special-ism.com suggests using aquatic therapy sessions to practice blowing bubbles in the water or blowing a small object, such as a ping pong ball, across the water.
If more traditional therapies aren’t working well for your child or if you’re simply looking for a new way to motivate them in their therapy, give aquatic therapy a try. Its benefits are numerous and its ability to help your child strengthen swimming skills will help keep them safe.
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Vee Cecil loves studying and learning more about wellness. She shares her finding on her recently-launched blog. She is also is a wellness coach, personal trainer, and bootcamp instructor and lives in Kentucky with her family.