Enrolling your child with autism in swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning. They can also bring more joy, confidence and coordination into their lives. Swimming is a relaxing activity that improves their learning other areas, strengthens their bodies and reduces anxiety. Swimming lessons are great for kids with autism!

What is Autism?

Autism is a neurodevelopment disorder. It causes impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication barriers as well as repetitive behaviour. Oftentimes, children with autism deal with severe sensory overload daily. In turn, it causes a great deal of anxiety. Dealing with daily hurdles is even more of a challenge.

What Does Swimming Have to Do With Autism?

Parents should consider the benefits that learning to swim for a certified special needs instructor can provide. Swimming can do the following for children with autism:

  • Reduce stress
  • Better coordination
  • Improve social skills
  • Give confidence 

Swimming involves repetitive movements, which is comforting for children with autism. It also uses all parts of the body, which strengthens muscles. While group swimming lessons or joining a team will help children make friends and find a fun hobby. The most important part is children will come out of swimming lessons happy that they were able to learn something new.

John O’Connor is an associate professor of adapted physical education at Montana State University. His program studies how swimming and physical activity helps those struggling with autism.

“People with autism experience levels of sensory perception that most of us wouldn’t know or understand,” Dr. O’Connor said. “It overloads them, so they engage in behaviours that distract them. Exercise gives them the same benefits but it doesn’t have the negative social connotations.”

As mentioned earlier, swimming requires repetitive movements. This is one of the signs of autism, which is why it’s comforting.

Swimming Benefits for Children with Autism

Now that we know how swimming relates to autism, let’s talk about how it helps!

Drowning Prevention

Sadly, drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death for children and adults with autism. Learning to swim is an important skill for a child with autism to learn. This is because they are naturally drawn to the water. This stems from their need or desire for isolation. In turn, they may flee to unfamiliar territory such as a backyard with a pool without a gate.


The International Journal of Sport Psychology finds swimming can improve a child with autism’s speech and cognitive abilities. Water acts as a soothing escape from any overwhelming noises. Fortunately, swimming can become a relaxing activity for the child to look forward to!

Social Interaction

A private swim lesson with an AquaMobile instructor will give your child a comfortable social experience. Children with autism sometimes suffer low self-esteem and this usually has to do with their lack of social skills. Simple tasks like holding their breath or learning the backstroke help eliminate any worries. Activities like ball sports require too many elements of focus.


Autism is measured on a spectrum, which means it is different for every child. Some children speak with little impairment and others might only say a few words. As a parent, you should always address with the instructor. Talk to them ahead of the lesson and ask questions like:

  • What time of day would be the least noisy for my child to have a comfortable lesson?
  • What aids can be used to help my child learn? (i.e. Flutter boards, noodles, fins, etc.)
  • Are you a good match for my child? (i.e. an instructor who has experience with working with children with autism or who is studying childcare)

Do you think your child will benefit from an afternoon of fun and learning in the pool? Check out AquaMobile’s private swimming lessons for children!

Do you know any other benefits of swimming lessons for kids with autism? Comment below! Learn more in our article about preparing for your child’s first lesson!