How swimming helps people with special needs10/03/2021 | Written by Nikos Kaskaras in Special Needs
Swimming can be a great helping factor for people with special needs in various ways. The benefits they can gain are physical, psychological, and social. For many of them, swimming was a changing factor in their lives, providing them with the essential qualities that all human beings look after Affection, security, and a sense of belonging.
The physical benefits of swimming for people with special needs
Swimming is probably the best physical activity for people with special needs as far as the physical benefits are concerned. First of all, it enables them to participate easier than most other sports because the water makes their motion flow. Buoyancy is a facilitating factor for their effortless movement, making their adjustment to the aquatic environment smooth. Additionally, swimming reinforces the physical and health status in the same way that all individuals can benefit from the swimming activity:
It is improving the health of the heart and lung
It is building the strength of muscles
It helps towards maintaining a healthy weight
It increases flexibility
It is improving motor skills
It reduces the level of possible pain
A report by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) was a cause for alarm: Half of all adults with disabilities didn't have any aerobic physical activity. There should be an encouragement for all to get out of their homes and start practising.
The psychological benefits of swimming for people with special needs
The health status of all people is neither a fixed, autonomous factor nor the result of just one cause. On the contrary, it depends heavily on the balance between the body and the mind. This is why swimming can be a boost for people with special needs: Because it combines both aspects of the human condition. Again the water functions as the ideal element of providing the much-anticipated calmness. Spending just one hour within an aquatic environment can clear your mind and uniquely refresh you. Not only that, but the sense of belonging that develops, when participating in a swimming training session, is building the sense of self-respect. All people need to feel that they belong somewhere, no one can leave and prosper alone. Especially for people with special needs, such a feeling is crucial for their psychological stability and their mental health.
The social benefits of swimming for people with special needs
As humans are by nature social beings, there are always social consequences when speaking about the treatment of larger social entities. For people with special needs, one major issue is the feeling of exclusion that they naturally feel. It is not easy to handle such an internal conflict. On the one hand, the issue of disability demands a certain attitude and strength to manage it. On the other hand, the feeling that the rest of the society treats you as a deviant and deliberately excludes you from the political, economic, social and cultural life is even worse. A relevant review that was published in the UK, analysed coherently all those sensitive issues. Of course, it is a complex issue that has various parameters. Nonetheless, taking swimming lessons and enjoying frequent interaction with the swim trainer and other people with special needs can have a tremendous effect on their social wellbeing. A combination of daily collective effort together with the much needed social support by both the state and the rest of the society can produce very positive results and make people with special needs gain their place in society.
Swimming skills ensure the safety of people with special needs
Finally, another essential reason that all people with special needs should master basic swimming skills, is that of safety. According to the National Autism Association (NSA) “drowning is among the leading causes of death of individuals with autism.” This is a major issue that also applies to the whole population and should be a priority for all the people of all countries. The vast majority of drowning incidents could have been prevented if there was elementary teaching of the essential swimming techniques. Another finding of the NSA also causes reason for great concern: For three consecutive years (2009, 2010 and 2011) accidental drowning accounted for 91% of total US deaths reported in children with an ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) aged 14 and younger after wandering. It is a striking statistical element that reveals the two main actions that all families of autistic children should perform: Always keep an eye on them and make sure that they are capable of swimming. The facts of life show that this is not a luxury but a necessity.
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