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Life Jacket Tips for Special Needs Swimmers

Life Jacket Tips for Special Needs Swimmers

Can your swimmer with challenges move and float independently with the life jacket on? Some swimmers with Anxiety, Autism, Down Syndrome and low muscle tone may need some modifications and experience with the life jacket due to the inability to control their bodies in the water.

Picture of a swim teacher instruction a special needs child in a life jacket
Gavin With Life Jacket

In this video, Gavin, who's three and a half years old was diagnosed with autism and low muscle tone at two years old. He also has hearing loss.

Gavin, with his parents, spends a lot of time outside in the summers at the lake. They learned early on that surrounding is the leading cause of death in kids with autism so right away their major fear was drowning.

Once they were at the lake. Gavin had a life vest on him. They always say, "keep life vests on your kids, especially around water". He was on a paddle board with his father. He went to reach for something off the paddle board and fell head-first. When the father looked over at him the life vest was pushing his body under so his whole mouth and nose were underwater.

His father dived in to pull him out and back onto the paddle board.

Wait... Get Your Lesson Plans Here

That was when they learned that they needed more than just a life jacket. They needed lessons.

The video displays the vest they eventually go for Gavin. On advice from Swim Angel Fish.

The original life vest that they had when Gavin fell off of his paddle board, actually pushed his head under.

This one has the flaps so he's able to roll over the other one was completely flat so it was just pushing his head under. Because he had little muscle tone he was not able to bring his head above the water.

Depending on where your student is on the spectrum you may want to consider taking the extra steps of going to the pool and practising wearing a life jacket in the water. But don't be fooled that putting a life jacket on ensures safety around water. You still have to supervise very carefully.

Asking permission to get in the water and even asking before getting in the bathtub is another great layer of protection. Building a safety routine and ritual for your time in, near and around water will provide more protection.

Please share our safety tips so that together we can empower parents with swimmers of ALL abilities to create new routines around water.


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