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About Autism Swim

Autism Swim (AS) are national Water Safety and Swimming Specialists in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

The team at AS is led by Autism and Behaviour Specialist Erika Gleeson (G.C Autism, B.A Behavioural Science). Erika has extensive national and international experience in Autism, behaviour support and skill development. She is also an accredited Swimming Instructor.

Autism Swim is a multi-disciplinary organisation, combining the expertise of Autism Specialists, Behaviour Specialists, Occupational Therapists and Swimming Teachers to achieve the best possible outcomes for the individuals whom they support.

The highly focused, energetic and experienced team at AS work with the participants to identify individual goals and operationalise these in a supportive and trusting framework.

Who do we work with?

  • Swim Centres and Instructors
  • Schools (both specialised and mainstream)
  • Families
  • Surf Life Saving Clubs
  • Government bodies

How do we teach?

We focus on four key areas:

1. Water Safety/Drowning Prevention
2. Water Therapy
3. Swimming Skill-Sets; and 
4. Generalising these skills to different bodies of waters (beach, lakes etc)

Many of the programs are based on Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA). The only interventions that have been shown to produce comprehensive, lasting results in autism have been based on the principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA).

We combine elements of instructional control, discrete trial teaching, visual imagery, reinforcement programs, shaping programs and stimulus control programs to reach the desired outcomes. Lessons are tailored to the individual in accordance with their identified needs and goals. We make it our obligation for all of our lessons to not only be instructional but to also be fun for our participants.

Drowning is among the leading causes of death in individuals with ASD. Over 90% of total death reports in children with ASD under 14 was a result of accidental drowning.1

AS is run by Autism Specialists and Swimming Teachers who understand the complexities of ASD and what support mechanisms are necessary to educate individuals on water safety, and equip them with the necessary skills to be confident in the water. Our aim is to lower the statistics of drowning deaths in the ASD population group, imparting knowledge on how individuals with ASD process and acquire skill-sets, in a fun and supportive environment.

Autism Swim is the first swim company in Australia run by Autism Specialists, dedicated solely to individuals with Autism.

Autism Swim caters for children as young as 2, as well as adults of any age.

Why is swimming so beneficial for individuals with ASD?

  • Swimming can fulfil sensory needs in a low stimulation environment
  • The repetitive nature of swimming can have therapeutic benefits
  • Gross Motor output is an essential self-regulation tool for individuals with ASD
  • Swimming lessons aim to equip individuals with confidence and skills imperative to ensure safety in the water
  • Swimming can result in increased coordination, mobility and balance
  • Swimming can achieve cognitive benefits (including increased communication skills) through skill development
  • Swimming results in increased fitness, joint stability and muscle strength and tone
  • Swimming can assist in training body sensation, body awareness, joint position, spatial awareness and posture control
  • Swimming allows for a social outlet
  • It's fun!

1 Reference - McIlwain, L. National Autism Association – Lethal Outcomes In ASD Wandering. January 2012.

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