With the heat of summer in full swing and swimming pools beckoning, children with autism spectrum disorder may be particularly susceptible to peril. Drowning is the leading cause of death for children with the developmental disorder, so it’s imperative for parents of children with autism to be extra vigilant about water safety. Teaching your child how to swim and communicating pool safety tips to him or her can help to ensure an enjoyable and safe season in the sun.
One important safeguard to consider for your backyard pool is a perimeter fence. A secure safety fence with a self-locking entrance gate will help to limit your child’s access to a potentially dangerous situation, especially if he or she is prone to wandering. Installing a motion-detecting alarm system also can help alert you if your child or someone else accesses your pool area or falls in when you’re not nearby. Teach your child how he or she is expected to manage himself or herself in and near water. In the event of an emergency, parents and caregivers should learn CPR by enrolling in a basic lifesaving course.
Signing your child up for swimming lessons can be one of the best ways to ensure that he or she is safe around water. By enrolling a child with autism in a specialized swimming program, he or she can learn appropriate breathing techniques that can help prevent the risk of drowning. Not only is swimming a low-impact physical exercise, but it also offers many therapeutic benefits while helping to enhance cognitive function and improve speech. Moreover, when a child is able to manage himself or herself in the water, it can help alleviate some of the stresses he or she experiences during other times of the day.
For more helpful tips on ensuring pool safety, see the accompanying checklist.