Child development enthusiast and avid volunteer Micah Raskin discusses how swimming can mentally and physically benefit children with special needs.
Recent studies show swim programs specifically designed for children with special needs can be particularly beneficial. Volunteer and child development enthusiast Micah Raskin explains how these benefits are physical and mental.
Swimming programs designed for special needs children are different from general swimming courses, Micah Raskin describes. These programs focus on building muscle in deficient areas, improving flexibility, working on motor skills, developing water safety skills, and more.
“There are three major goals in mind when providing swimming programs for special needs children,” Micah Raskin says. “Teaching essential water safety skills, promoting fun and engaging exercise, and improving emotional and mental health.”
Recent research shows swimming programs can offer numerous physical benefits to kids with special needs. Those benefits, according to enthusiasts like Micah Raskin, include improved core strength, reduced risk of disease, superior control of body weight, improved balance, endurance, and more overall body awareness. These are benefits that are enjoyed by children in the short and long term.
“Experiencing the joy of swimming is something these kids will take with them throughout their lives,” Micah Raskin explains. “They’re receiving all of these benefits, like improved motor skills and muscle strength, but they’re having fun doing it. This helps kids with special needs understand that exercise doesn’t have to be painful or boring.”
Swimming has also been proven to provide mental health benefits to children with special needs. Micah Raskin explains that kids gain self-esteem and confidence by noticing individual progress. Children also learn to trust their swim coaches and build lasting relationships with fellow swimming classmates.
Many kids who experience limited movement in everyday life experience a greater range of motion in the water. Children who have little independence on land can experience independence, often for the first time, in the water.
“The most important part of a swimming program for special needs children is focusing on what these kids can do,” Micah Raskin says. “So many times, they’re told they have limitations or that they simply cannot do something. In the water, they learn that they can do a lot more than many people think and those limits are meant to be broken.”
Swim lessons for special needs children also serve major safety purposes. The National Autism Association says that drowning is one of the leading causes of death for kids with autism. Swimming programs teach kids the essentials they need to survive if they unexpectedly find themselves in water.
Swimming is an essential life skill. Micah Raskin emphasizes that kids with special needs are just as capable of learning this skill, and enjoying its physical and mental benefits, as their peers.