In a multidisciplinary effort, a new innovative swimming programme has been offered to parents and children attending Cope Foundation. The programme, ‘Sensational Swimmers’ was a great success with all families that participated. The ‘Sensational Swimmers’, programme is specifically developed to help children with specific learning needs, autism, communication difficulties and sensory difficulties to enjoy success in the water and in learning to swim. It also works with families to develop their confidence, so that swimming can be a family activity and experience.
The Sensational Swimming Programme was developed by the Speech and Language Therapy Department, Physiotherapy Department & Leisure Recreational and Physical Activity Department in Cope Foundation. The multidisciplinary project team noticed that in their local community children who had additional learning needs often struggled to participate in conventional swimming lessons and/or accessing their community swimming pool, and that families had difficulty accessing local pools as a result. The team found that adding specific teaching and communication strategies, addressing behavioural issues, and using an understanding of specific learning needs greatly improved the children’s enjoyment and success in learning to swim.
The programme offers
■ Orientation day for families and children to introduce the child to the pool
■ Parent Training on Lámh sign language and the use of visual aids to support transitions, facilitated understanding and increase attention to activities.
■ A picture of reference and individualised social story as part of preparation for attending the lessons.
■ 6 weekly sessions with goal progression from developing safety awareness and confidence in the water to learning specific swimming instruction.
■ Receipt of a certificate by all the children on completion of the lessons, with an outline report of goals to continue to focus on, in order to consolidate the child’s learning.
What parents say!
‘I have now enrolled my son with confidence in swimming lessons in our local area.’
‘I am ready to bring my children to a public pool and feel more confident in doing so.’
‘My daughter has used the visual aids at home to request swimming and to talk to others about what she is doing.’
‘My child has loved coming to the class and I wish it would continue.’