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Many children with Autism enjoy being in water. And in a population that is at risk for becoming obese, it is certainly an excellent way for them to get the physical exercise they need. Knowing how to swim is also important for children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) because it's a key way they can keep themselves safe in and around water.
But the physical benefits are only the beginning. Aquatic therapy and swimming also have many mental health benefits for children with ASD. Here are a few.
Improves cognitive functions. As Chesapeake Bay Aquatic Physical Therapy notes, aquatic therapy has been shown to "improve a child's attention span, concentration, impulse control, frustration tolerance and ability to follow instructions".
Helps improve social interaction. This study presented by the U.S National Library of Medicine takes a look at the effectiveness of hydrotherapy. The study found that the social interactions facilitated by aquatic therapy between the child and the instructor and other peers and the social interactions the child sees during therapy help them have better social interactions outside the pool.
Calms and reduces anxiety. Swimming is loved by many because it's repetitive motions help us tune out everything around us. The water also has a natural calming effect. Children with autism also enjoy those benefits. As this guide on aquatic therapy for children with autism points out, being in water helps to calm their muscles, which can bring on stress relief and reduce anxiety.
Improves quality of life. As CheshireFitnessZone.com notes, aquatic therapy has many other benefits for children with autism. Physically, it can help children with ASD improve their motor function. It can also help them manage sensory issues. These and other physical benefits combined with the benefits mentioned above lead aquatic therapy to improve a child's overall quality of life.
If you aren't able to get your child involved in structured aquatic therapy, try swimming. Being in water, whether for a therapy session, swim lesson, or simply to play, can be very relaxing for them. Truly, from a physical and mental health perspective, no time in water is wasted.
Vee Cecil is a wellness coach, personal trainer, and bootcamp instructor. She is passionate about studying and sharing her findings in wellness through her recently launched blog. She lives in Kentucky (U.S) with her family.