We talk a lot about pool safety. That’s because it’s important to keep first things first, and when it comes to the pool, safety should come before anything else. In general, following just a few simple steps is all it takes to make sure everyone enjoys their pool time without a hitch, but as with almost everything in life, a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t always enough. This is particularly true for families with children who have special needs like autism. Families like these can face specific challenges that are worth taking a closer look at in order to practice even better pool safety.
Pool Safely, a national public education campaign to reduce childhood drownings, submersion injuries, and entrapments, explained in a recent webinar that children with autism often exhibit a combination of behaviors that put them at a higher risk of drowning. These behaviors, such as wandering, impulsivity, and either extreme love or fear of water, mean that an extra level of care should be taken to ensure the child’s safety.
Never Leave Your Child Unattended
This is true with any child, but it is especially true for children with autism. According to data from the National Autism Association (NAA), most autism-related wandering incidents happen when the weather is warmer, which is generally when pools are more accessible. These events are particularly common during holidays, during large gatherings, or when visiting a home that isn’t theirs. Assigning someone to watch the pool every time you are around one is the best method of preventing any incidents.
Teach Your Child to Swim
Whether this means getting lessons or spending a lot of intentional time with them yourself, teaching your child how to swim is one of the best things you can do to keep them safe. Depending on your situation, you may look into swim lessons specifically designed for children with special needs. In some cases, you may even be able to find lessons for free or discounted.
Have Multiple Layers of Protection
One precaution that Pool Safely especially recommends is having multiple layers of protection. If your pool has a fence, add a pool cover and alarm also. Any extra steps of precaution that you can take are worth it. But, even with extra protection, it’s necessary to be alert. If a child with autism ever goes missing, check all bodies of water immediately.
Hopefully, you have found these steps helpful. If you know someone with autism, these simple tips should allow you to be better prepared for the unique care necessary to be prepared. Keep practicing your pool safety every time you’re near the pool!