Water Safety Tips
Drowning is the number one cause of death for children and adolescents on the autism spectrum, accounting for 91 percent of deaths for children 14 years and under with autism. Individuals on the spectrum are often prone to wandering behaviors and lack water safety awareness, so developing water safety and awareness skills early on is of the utmost importance. Below are some water safety tips for parents to implement in various situations.
If your child is afraid and timid around the water, bath time can be a great place to practice skills like blowing bubbles and getting your child used to placing their ears under the water. You can begin with a small amount of water and have your child lay back in the tub with both ears slightly under the water, slowly adding more water over time. This is a great way to introduce back floating and start making the water fun!
If you have a backyard pool or are going to a house with a backyard pool, always make sure there is a safety gate that is closed and locked at all times. Remember the importance of talking to your child about when, where, and how it is appropriate to enter the water. An adult must always be present.
Personal Flotation Devices
When looking for a personal flotation device, always make sure it is Coast Guard Approved. The inside of every Coast Guard Approved flotation device, such as a life jacket or puddle jumper, will be stamped with the Coast Guard Approval Number on the inside chest area.
Before going into any aquatic environment talk to your child and establish clear rules and expectations. Where and who are the lifeguards and what rules do they have on the pool deck? What does the blowing of a whistle mean and what does your child need to do? What areas of the pool are safe for your child to swim in and what areas are danger areas that they cannot go in? Address any other rules that maybe specific to the swimming pool that you are visiting, such as slides, diving boards, or other aquatic attractions.