Summer fun for most kids usually includes pool time. Children with special needs may especially benefit for the following reasons:
- Water provides increased resistance which may help build muscle tone.
- An adapted aquatic program can help build strength, cardiovascular endurance and motor planning skills.
- The buoyancy factor helps reduce body weight – removing 80% of the weight from lower extremities
- Being in water provides more gravity eliminated movements so may help promote more freedom of movement and independence
- Specific water play activities can help promote focus/attention, turn taking and social skills.
Obviously pool safety is paramount for all swimmers and may take extra planning for those with special needs. Basic water safety and flotation compliance issues should be followed and monitored closely.
Check with your child’s OT or PT and /or your local YMCA or other community organization that may offer an adaptive aquatics program.
Here are a few of our favorite ideas for making a splash:
1. Many kids love to dive for objects in the pool. If underwater adventures are not an option then use ping pong balls to float on top of the water that the child can then then walk, float or swim to retrieve.
2. These penguin floats are perfect for above while also working on color discrimination.
3. Go Fish! Instead of the traditional game of basketball Horse, use a small beach ball (or the Fingerlight Ball) and the Big Mouth Hoop mounted poolside. Take the shot and each player gets a letter for every miss. First one to spell FISH is out!
4. For younger children or those not ready for the shallow end, use a wading pool and drop ice cubes in the water and see how quickly the child can find them before they melt. This is a great visual (and tactile) discrimination activity but you can use food coloring to make cubes for more contrast if needed.
5. Remember to take at least a 5 minute rest every half hour and developing/non swimmers should always be at arm’s length from an adult. And Pool Pals are a must if potty training is an issue!
Let us know your favorite ideas for Pool Fun.