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Adaptive Swim Lessons: Unlocking 5 Essential Strategies for Success

5 Foolproof Strategies to Ignite Your Adaptive Swim Lessons

Imagine standing by the poolside, equipped with a carefully planned set of skills to impart to your special needs swimmer. But, as soon as they arrive, it's unmistakably clear - they're not interested in what you have to offer. Sounds familiar? Don't panic! In this article, we will provide you with 5 foolproof strategies to ignite your adaptive swim lessons and ensure they always start on a high note! Ready, Set...Action!

Image of a child in the pool with their swimming instructor Essential Strategies for Adaptive Swimming Success
Essential Strategies for Adaptive Swimming Success

Before we dive into the tips, let's understand what we mean by 'Taking Action' in the context of special needs swim lessons. 'Action' here refers to the deliberate steps taken towards achieving a set goal.

Much like a movie set, where the stage is prepped, lights are turned on, cameras are rolling, and actors are all set to deliver their best; an adaptive swim lesson requires the instructor to consciously 'Take Action' to help swimmers reach their goals.

1. Set Clear Goals

The first step to any successful endeavor is setting clear goals. Collaborate with the swimmer's parents to understand their specific needs and aspirations. This will help you design a personalized 'Action Plan' for each swimmer.

2. Understand Your Swimmer

Get to know your swimmer. Ask specific questions that give you insight into their likes, dislikes, and challenges. For example, instead of asking 'Do they like the water?', ask 'How do they react during bath time?' The answers will help you create a more tailored approach.

3. Observe & Discover

Your swimmer's body language and general disposition can offer you valuable cues. Look for non-verbal signals that hint at their readiness for the swim lesson. Adjust your tone of voice, space, or approach based on their interaction with the environment to create the right setting for learning.

4. Build Trust & Connect

Building a bond with your swimmer is crucial, and this starts outside the pool. Learn how to interact with your swimmer, understand their needs, and adjust your approach accordingly. Remember, a positive mindset and belief in your student's abilities can work wonders!

5. Provide a Positive Experience

Be flexible with your plan and expectations while working towards the set goals. Start the lesson with familiar skills or activities they enjoy before introducing new or challenging tasks. Provide positive reinforcement and take small steps towards achieving the larger goal.

Here's a video demonstration of these five proven strategies in action. By adopting these tips, you can assure a sensory and disability-friendly swim instruction experience that starts off splendidly!

The role of 'Action' is undeniable in the success of swim lessons, especially for students with Autism or various disabilities. Our Adaptive Swim Whisperers Certification Program equips you with the necessary knowledge and skills to turn your lessons around!

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Meet the Founders

Ailene Tisser, MA, PT is a pediatric Physical Therapist with over 25 years of experience treating a variety of diagnoses. She brings her expertise into the water, helping children of all abilities feel safe, confident, and independent.

Cindy Freedman, MOTR is a recreational therapist and an Occupational therapist. Her love for the water combined with her education and work experience enables her to make a significant impact on the lives of swimmers with special needs.

The mission of Swim Angelfish is to create an aquatic community of trained instructors dedicated to decreasing the alarming statistic of drowning being the leading cause of death for children with special needs.

We've designed a step-by-step guide for swim instructors who wish to teach swimmers with sensory, behavioral, emotional, or attention challenges. This guide will assist your students with Autism, ADHD, Anxiety, Down Syndrome, and more to learn swimming faster and acquire essential water safety skills.


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