Thursday, 19 February 2015

Success at Swimming with Sensory Stimulation

Shopping at Costco recently I came across swimsuits that are perfect for my daughters who have sensory issues and still wear diapers.  The best part is they only cost $15, not an extreme "special needs" price.  Finding swimsuits that work for special needs can be a challenge and coming across these for such a reasonable price was enough to make me do a "happy dance".

I love these swimsuits because they are 2 piece making it easier for the girls to pull the bottoms down when we are working on toileting and the fact that the shorts style modestly covers their diaper.  The short sleeve surfer style shirts are snug and calming, stylish and also provide UV protection when in the sun, which is huge for my very fair skinned children.  The boys also wear surfer style shirts to help them with calming along with their swim shorts.

The new swimsuits got me thinking about swimming and the many challenges for children with sensory issues and other special needs.  It seems like my bunch want to make sure we experience it all when it comes to swimming challenges so I have had to come up with some ways to deal with things.

So much motor planning is required for swimming and when this is a difficulty you may need to find an instructor who can break down the strokes and teach in a way that your child learns.  Private lessons may be required as a group lesson may just be too much.  For us we have been doing weekly private lessons for the last year and a half and for some the progress is extremely slow.

I don't know about you but I find swimming pools to be extremely loud quite often and the experience can sometimes be overwhelming.  The running, squealing, splashing and the noise of all the water features can be a lot for people with auditory and visual processing challenges.  When we go swimming we try to find quiet times to avoid a lot of the additional stimulation but have found ear plugs for swimming and goggles that are tinted can also be helpful for these situations.

The temperature of the water can also be a challenge, quite often my kids are happy in the tot pool as it's warmer than the main pool which is often too cold for them.  Also getting their face wet is a big challenge for a couple of the children, so we play a lot of games working up to this and hoping to desensitize them both at the pool and in the bathtub at home.

If we are swimming anywhere but the pool, water shoes are also required, if I want the child to move at all.  I confess, for my child that is extremely busy and likes to run, it is a benefit him having these issues as it tends to slow him down.  The textures on their feet walking on sand or rocks is enough to put an end to the day for the others.

Another issue can be the chlorine that they treat the water with, the smell and the way that it effects their eyes can really make some people uncomfortable.  One solution is finding a pool that treats their water with ozone as opposed to chlorine.

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