Swimming – A Special Sport for Special Needs

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For those of you not familiar with swim teams, you may not know what you are missing. Everyone knows that swimming is a phenomenal form of exercise but what many don’t know is that it also helps calm those who have ADD/ADHD and/or Sensory Processing Disorder. Swimming is a repetitive motion that once mastered, can become soothing in both the repetition and the feel of the water against one’s body. The water acts as a buffer between the swimmer and the outside world for those who are sensitive to auditory and visual stimuli.

As a parent of a swimmer, I have seen the difference firsthand in those who are wound up pre-practice and are calm and attentive post-practice. As time goes on, the calming and focusing effects tend to last longer. Emotional regulation improves as does attention and focus.

Swimming offers the ability to work both individually yet still be part of a team. Most swimmers feel a great sense of accomplishment  whether it’s from increasing the amount of laps completed during a practice, improving a stroke, or dropping time during a swim meet.

It’s not unusual for children with special needs to struggle with losing, but on a swim team, each swimmer competes against themselves. Yes, there are others in the pool, “racing” the other swimmers, but the ultimate goal is to swim against your own time and improve it. The structure of the sport offers an opportunity to socialize but without overwhelming a person with constant interactions.  So what are you waiting for? Dive on in to the sport of swimming. Here is a link to the Illinois swim teams:  https://www.swimtoday.org/v2/swimtoday/


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