April is Autism Awareness Month: For Progress, Just Add Water!

The Wilsons

When Amanda Wilson decided to sign her boys up for swim lessons, it was for a reason close to her heart.

Both of her sons, 6-year-old Cooper and 4-year-old Brody, are on the autism spectrum. And Wilson learned a troubling statistic. According to the National Autism Association, accidental drowning accounted for more than 90% of total U.S. deaths reported in autistic children 14 and younger in 2009-2011.

“Kids are drawn to water,” she said. “I knew I had to do what I could to keep them safe. Maybe they could learn to tread water until someone found them. Maybe it could save their life.”

At Goldfish Swim School, we take water safety very seriously – and we include it in every 30-minute lesson.

Wilson, whose sons swim at the Canton, Michigan location, wasn’t sure what to expect and she certainly wasn’t expecting the amazing progress her sons have made in their two years at Goldfish Swim School. But now, her son Cooper is in Glider 3 and her son Brody – who loves trying to keep up with his older brother – is in Glider 1. It’s something to celebrate, she said.

“I’m so happy with their progress,” she said. “We drive 40 minutes to these lessons and it’s so worth it.”

Cooper, she says, is very smart but is challenged with social issues. He also struggles with change and loves routine.

“He’s a fast learner, but he needs help with focus,” she said. “If he’s not interested, it’s hard to keep his attention. But swimming keeps him interested and he loves his teacher.”

Cooper’s teacher Donovan is the key to his amazing progress and extraordinary results, Wilson said. Donovan, she said, has a true gift and works well with Cooper. In fact, when Wilson enrolled the boys, she relayed her concerns to the staff and they said Donovan was the teacher for her family.

“He has a way with Coop,” she said. “If it’s busy or loud or if Cooper is having an off day, Donovan notices it right away. He will use different tactics, playful stuff, to get him back on track.”

And Wilson has noticed changes in her sons’ behavior out of the pool as well. He’s developing more social skills and he is also more flexible.

“It’s definitely helped him not struggle so much with transitions and routine changes,” she said.

Cooper has had Donovan as his teacher for his entire time at Goldfish. Wilson said Brody is more flexible and has worked with different teachers and has done well with all of them.

Swim lessons that accommodate special needs have also helped Cooper with self-esteem, goal setting, perseverance and confidence. Our instructors use integrity, compassion, trust with our little swimmers so everyone has a golden experience – every time.

“He will tell me that he’s getting the ribbon on this day or that day,” she said. “He’s determined.”

Wilson said she’d encourage families with special needs children – especially children on the autism spectrum– to definitely consider Goldfish Swim School.

“They have been so wonderful and accommodating since Day 1,” she said. We have other swim schools that are closer but we drive to Goldfish for a reason. The reason is, it works.”

Goldfish Swim School

If you have children with special needs, we would love to meet your family. Stop by a Goldfish Swim School near you and experience our WOW customer service for yourself. Our pools are always kept at a balmy 90 degrees and we use The Science of SwimPlay® to ensure your little fish aren’t only learning and making progress but having FUN too.

Each Goldfish Swim School is independently owned and operated. Please check with your local Goldfish for more information on their lesson offerings and schedules.

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