Children with autism are at great risk for drowning if they don't know how to swim, because many of them have no fear of water and enjoy the sensory input that they receive from being in water.
We teach children new skills while at the pool; and we reward children for compliance and learning by letting them play in the water between trials. This has been highly productive for children who have problems attending to their work and children who need a great deal of motor input or sensory input before they can regulate their behavior for work.
The sensory benefit from being in the water often limits or eliminates a child's need for self-stimulatory behavior (stimming) during the time that they're in the pool. And this normally increases the child's attending skills and compliance when asked to work.
With the success of our ABA therapy sessions in the pool, we quickly decided that we needed a special needs swimming instructor who could teach our clients how to swim - at which point we added ABA therapy goals for swimming skills.
The programs at the pool have been so successful that our nonprofit counterpart, White Bridle Therapeutic Horsemanship (which will be renamed White Bridle Horsemanship and Aquatics), will be launching an aquatics program in September as we work on organizing a Special Olympics Aquatics program to teach children with autism and other developmental delays how to swim.
More information will be included prior to the launch of this program. Partial funding has been secured through a private donation.