Sep 15, 2016

The Special Needs Aquatic Program at Aqua Tots Swim Schools of Michigan

With Six Metro Detroit Locations to serve you in Canton, Novi, Sterling Heights, Troy, Auburn Hills and Farmington Hills.

A big thank you to Kathy Elrod, the General Manager at Aqua Tots Swim School of Troy, for taking the time to answer my questions about her program. If you would like to speak with Kathy about the swimming program at Aqua Tots, you can reach her at 248-845-4545.

Swimming is such an important life skill for everyone.  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 kind of modifications do you/can you make for swimmers with special 

We run and adaptive aquatics program so we do our best to individually suit each child's special need with as little modification as possible while still pushing them to learn and achieve new skills. It may be something as simple as changing the wording we normally use or swapping one teaching tool for another. If it is needed we may go as far as blending together 2 different levels if a child is more advanced in one area and struggles with another (for example teaching level 4 front stroke but level 2 back float), using different communication devices such as picture charts or props that are not usually part of our curriculum. Everyone can learn to swim and be water safe, we do our best to find what works most efficiently for that child. 

What kinds of modifications do you make for behavior management?
This really depends on the behavior you are trying to modify or manage. We use different techniques based on what kind of behavior you are trying to adapt - violence/out burst, fear based behaviors, routine based behaviors, excited or seeking type behaviors. Each behavior has its own way of getting corrected and each child is different based on what is at the root of these behaviors. I have many different tips and tricks that I walk the instructor through in order to find what works for that child and that behavior.

Would you require children to be placed in a class with a lower ratio for safety?
As I said before we try to be as inclusive as possible with all of our swim programs and our SNAP program is no different. If your child can participate safely in a class with others and not take away from the other child's experience or their own we will put them in a group class. If your child needs a lower ratio so that they can get what they need out of the lesson then we will work with you do find a smaller class size. If a child requires a private lesson because they are unable to participate safely with others or lack the skills to sit safely while an instructor works with another child then we do require a private lesson for them. If we determine that your child requires a private class, we do offer our SNAP private lessons at a discounted rate compared to our regular private classes. 

What training do you offer to your coaches to help them deal with 
children that have special needs?
All of our coaches (SNAP instructors or not) go through the same extensive training process where they are required to do classroom work, online testing, shadowing (which includes special needs classes when available) and CPR/First Aid training. Those coaches who are further interested in becoming SNAP instructors are then offered further training on how to adapt our curriculum and themselves to fit the child. These training sessions are lecture and practicum where they get to work with some of our SNAP students. At the Troy Location I offer all of my SNAP coaches observations and many times even get in to assist them in finding the best practices for that specific child, teaching them how to get the most out of that lesson if they feel they, or the child is struggling. 

Why should a parent choose Aqua Tots over another program when they are 
considering a swimming school for their child with special needs?

Aqua Tots Swim Schools of Michigan has one of the most inclusive, adaptive and child centered programs (not therapy based or associated with a hospital program) that I have found in our area. Our SNAP instructors love working with special needs children and are equipped with the tools to do so in order to get the best result for that child. Our commitment to water safety allow us to further extend our mission to work with our community to prevent drownings, especially in the special needs community where this is sadly so prevalent.  

Again, thank you to Kathy Elrod, the General Manager at Aqua Tots Swim School of Troy, for taking the time to answer my questions about her program. If you would like to speak with Kathy about the program you can reach her at 248-845-4545.

More About Aqua-Tots

Teaching kids to swim has been the foundation of Aqua-Tots since they began. And today they still take special care to make sure their swim schools are a welcoming, comfortable and inviting place for kids of all ages at our Detroit area locations including Canton, Novi, Sterling Heights, Troy, Auburn Hills and Farmington Hills. Aqua-Tots Swim Schools of Michigan offers swim classes for babies, toddlers, infants, kids, swim team, adults, and children with special needs at over 70 locations worldwide. With never more than 4 students per swim class, this intimate setting provides a great environment for children learning to swim. Call to schedule your COMPLIMENTARY in water evaluation and tour today.
Troy 248-845-4545
Sterling Heights 586-844-3633
Novi 248-845-4544
Canton 734-828-2000
Farmington Hills 248-537-4004
Auburn Hills 248-537-4005

Metro Detroit Mommy Writer: