Aqua-Tots Swim School's mission is to help prevent drowning within the community. We have a specially designed Special Needs Aquatic Program (S.N.A.P.) for children. The S.N.A.P. swimming program is designed to provide a beneficial, motivating and enjoyable experience for children of all ages with special needs. The pool is a great place for children to learn new swimming skills, focus on adaptability and to help aid in the therapeutic process.
According to the National Autism Association, drowning is among the leading causes of death for individuals with autism. Almost half of children with an ASD will try to leave their safe environment, this rate is almost four times higher than the elopement rate for children without ASD. Wandering away, then naturally leaves them more susceptible to drowning, in fact, 32% of parents reported a “close call” with a possible drowning.
Swimming is such an important life skill for everyone, especially for children with autism who face a higher likelihood of drowning. Living in Michigan, we have so many natural bodies of water, which makes learning to swim even more important. Aqua-Tots Swim Schools of Michigan aims to teach children of all ability levels this critical skill and continually strives to meet the needs of each and every swimmer.
For children with special needs, water safety is a big concern. Aqua-Tots Swim Schools of Michigan offers SNAP (special needs aquatic program) classes that emphasize safe permissions/boundaries and water safety skills. Students also gain confidence in the water as they are learning a new skill. And although they are not certified to run a therapy based program many parents have reported improvement in many areas including mobility, comprehension and social skills after starting in the Aqua Tots program.
What stands out about this program is their dedication to ensure that each child has a wonderful swimming experience. They believe that every child can learn to swim and be safe in the water, and they do their best to find what works most efficiently for each child.
Over our years at Aqua-Tots we have seen many lessons take place. Some of the most memorable moments for me, beyond those of my own children and their accomplishments, are the interactions between the swim coaches and a child with Autism. I can see clearly in my mind the pure joy on the face of a boy who was enjoying every moment of his swimming lessons. I remember this because I also remember that he took quite some time to get to that point. He started his first lesson afraid to even get in the water and his coach was so patient with him, so persistent, so caring. I can't imagine how his parents felt to see this change, but for me, it was simply awesome.
All of the coaches at Aqua-Tots Swim Schools go through a rigorous training process where they do classroom work, testing, shadowing and CPR/First Aid Training. Coaches can choose to further their training by becoming a SNAP instructor. The training sessions include classes and shadowing experiences where they learn how to adapt the curriculum and themselves to fit the needs of each child.
SNAP instructors at Aqua-Tots are given the tools they need to help children with autism be safe in and near the water, learn how to swim and develop a love for swimming in their inclusive and adaptive child-centered swimming program. They learn how to modify or manage behavior issues that may arise, including violence/outbursts, fear based behaviors, routine based behaviors, excited or seeking type behaviors in a way that is most effective for the individual and their learning goals.
But, most importantly, the instructors love what they do and demonstrate a genuine care for each and every student, which is at the core of why their program works so well. Rosa and Carlyn have both developed wonderful relationships with each coach they have worked with over time. Occasionally, we will run into a coach they had in the past and they always take a moment to greet them, ask how they are doing. It is these caring bonds that make Aqua-Tots so effective and sets them apart from other swimming programs.