Karen: Do you think swimming or aquatic therapy is appropriate for my special needs kid?
Steve: Absolutely, positively without equivocation. In general, the swimming community is the most supportive group of families we have come across in the 17 years that we have been involved with kids sports in Fairfax County. The Special needs volunteers are ...as you can imagine...outstanding human beings.
Also, your child does not need to be involved in the competitive aspects of some of the special needs programs, to physically and mentally benefit from aquatic training. For some reason, water has a special power, it is almost spiritual. It has a calming effect on children when they are introduced to it in the right way.
Check out the great programs available for adaptive exercise https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/adapted-programs
"The Park Authority's award-winning Adapted Aquatics is an individualized swimming and water activity program for customers with physical and developmental disabilities. This success-oriented program targets individuals who do not currently meet the prerequisites for participating in an inclusive environment. The program is designed to develop basic swim skills in a structured setting with one-on-one support from trained volunteers.Students may register for:Adapted Aquatics Group Classes – These courses are conducted by American Red Cross certified Adapted Aquatics Instructors and trained volunteers.
- Small group lessons (one to four students) – These lessons are offered at all RECenter pools. Flexible scheduling is available. Classes can also be arranged for school groups and group homes. 703-222-4664 is the best # to start with for more information. Sign up, scheduling and more info is available here as a starting place: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/adapted-programs
Please note that family members may be requested to assist in the water if volunteers are not available."
Also available are Special Olympics prep programs for developmentally delayed youth who want to participate in swimming competitions. These swim meets are awesome and encouraging. Check out what Special Olympics does with the help of the Fairfax County facilitiess http://specialolympicsva.org/calendar/event/1401
If you would like to volunteer in the adaptive aquatics program, check out the requirements: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/sites/parks/files/assets/documents/volunteer/adapted-aquatics-training.pdf