Group swimming classes great for kids with autism

By Mary Dennehy

A TALLAGHT mother is promoting and coaching group swim classes for children with autism, after seeing the many benefits the activity has had on her four-year-old son.

Living in Seskin View, mother-of-three Audrey Brown has been a coach with swimming school Turtle Tots for a number years.

Audrey Brown Turtle Tots compressor

Audrey with her son Ashton

Over that time, and from experience of going swimming with her son Ashton, who has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Audrey noticed a need and a demand for lessons for children with autism.

Audrey, who delivers swimming lessons in the Maldron Hotel Tallaght, raised the idea of group classes for children with autism to Turtle Tots, and was given the go-ahead to develop a programme.

After undergoing training with Autism Swim, Audrey is now the first Turtle Tots’ coach nationwide to deliver group swims for children with autism.

On the back of Audrey’s hard work and dedication, and input from the Tallaght Parents Autism Support Group (TPASG), weekly classes are now up and running.

 “There are so many benefits to swimming for children with autism . . . it positively impacts on their sleep, motor skills, eating,”  Audrey told The Echo.

“I can’t begin to explain my passion for it now that I really understand the benefits of it.

“The water is also therapeutic . . . and it gives the parents a chance to relax too.

“One parent gets into the water with each child and it’s nice for them to have this one-to-one time that’s not schooling or occupational therapy.

“It’s time out for parents and they get to meet other parents.”

According to Audrey, water safety is a concern for many parents of children with autism.

“My son Ashton wouldn’t understand water or the dangers. . . but the classes give him swimming skills and extra support for when in water,” Audrey said.

“Some parents were nervous before the classes, but now, after only four weeks, we have one child just about ready to swim on his own and all of the kids are starting to see their place in the water.

“The hope is that we will send children off with a better understanding of water.”

Audrey is now hoping to train other Turtle Tots’ coaches up on delivering group swims for children with autism, and roll the programme out across other communities.

“The demand is there and we’ve had lots of enquiries and emails,” Audrey said.

The group swimming lessons for children with autism take place every Saturday in Club Vitae at the Maldron Hotel in Tallaght.

Audrey is currently providing two, 30-minute classes, with six children in each.

From November, the number of 30-minute classes in Tallaght is set to increase to four.

For further details visit www.turtletots.ie

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