Swimming has long been used as a therapy for people of all ages and abilities. It is particularly useful as a teaching aid for children with learning difficulties, allowing them to focus on the challenging task of coordinating their bodies to swim as well as being fun and excellent exercise.
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Teaching a child with autism to swim offers more than cognitive and physical benefits. It also has enormous safety advantages. According to KSHB-TV, drowning is one of the leading causes of death among children with autism. Swimming is an excellent way to develop the motor skills of an autistic child, according to disabilities site Special Needs Parenting, and not only the large muscles of the child, but also the cerebral skills of coordination. As autistic children are often excluded from team sports, swimming provides a social outlet where a child can build confidence and social skills.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Children with attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity (ADHD) often have boundless energy, so swimming can offer the perfect outlet. Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps suffered from ADHD as a child and was unable to sit still in class. As an alternative to the ADHD treatment Ritalin, Phelps turned to swimming to curb his hyperactivity and quickly found, as he recalled to "Sports Illustrated," that the process of training and competing helped him find focus as well.
Swimming is a great way to help Down syndrome children stay active. It is primarily an individual sport, and so a Down syndrome child can do it without feeling under pressure to compete with other children or feel self-conscious in a team. Swimming can also provide therapy for a Down syndrome child, allowing him to relax as he enjoys the sensation of floating in the water. There is no reason a child with Down syndrome can't become an excellent swimmer. The Down Syndrome International Swimming Organisation (dsiso.org) has set up worldwide competitions.
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