Swimming is a fantastic inclusive activity to do with children with special needs. It’s a great sensory experience that is good fun and has positive benefits for both physical and mental health. It is also an activity that can be done all year round and doesn’t have to be weather dependent (depending on where you choose to swim!).
So where are the best places to go swimming for children with special needs?
Let’s start at home. Home is often our safe place and it’s a place where we have all the equipment and products that we need for day-to-day life raising a child with special needs. A paddling pool can provide great fun in the back garden on warmer days (when we have them!). They can be a great way to cool down and have fun.
Your local swimming pool is a facility that you should be able to use all year round regardless of the weather. It is worthwhile contacting the swimming pool beforehand to see what equipment they have (for example if you need a Changing Places toilet or pool hoist) and if they offer ‘sensory-friendly’ sessions, where the pool is quieter with less people and the music is switched off. If your child would be better swimming in a quieter environment and they don’t offer a ‘sensory-friendly’ session, ask them what day and time is less busy and if they have a quiet space that you can take your child to if they’re feeling overwhelmed.
It is also worthwhile considering what swimming aids might help your child. Swimming pools often have lots of auditory and visual distractions, which can be intimidating. Ear plugs, goggles and swim caps may help to reduce these distractions and make your child feel more comfortable and secure.
For those who are incontinent, SpecialKids Company offers a range of adapted, incontinence swimwear to keep your child comfortable and protected from leaks.
The beach is another place that can be hit or miss sensory wise for children. If it is too busy and noisy, you should consider aids to help your child such as ear defenders. However, if sensory issues don’t affect your child at the beach then it can be a fantastic place to visit with them. The feel and texture of the sand. The smell and waves of the sea. There is a lot to be explored!
Some beaches now have beach wheelchairs to help children with mobility problems move around on the sand. This is something we think all beaches should have!
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