This Tucson-based swim school is taking dives to stand out among other swim facilities. Apart from their small class sizes, well-trained, professional coaches, and indoor, salt-water pool facilities, Saguaro Aquatics also offers swimming lessons specifically designed for children with mental or physical disabilities in their Sonoran Dolphins Program.
The Sonoran Dolphin Program offers private, individualized lessons for any student with disabilities. Using a unique water safety and swimming lesson curriculum, the program allows children with autism and other disabilities to learn and experience swimming safety skills and improve the overall quality of their life.
Staff is specifically trained in behavior and sensory therapy and each child is assessed during an introductory lesson, where the instructor will then customize the curriculum for each individual child allowing them to achieve their goals.
Molly Walker, Manager of the Sonoran Dolphin Program, says that the program is designed to better meet the needs of each student.
“From visual schedules to sensory toys to help during lessons as positive reinforcers and focus tools, Saguaro Aquatics strives to enter each student’s world to help teach the water safety skills needed for each student,” she said.
Not only is the program teaching valuable life-saving swimming skills, but it is also helping in a variety of other ways including fostering a sense of community, alleviating joint pain and muscle stiffness, as well as improving communication in non-verbal students.
“The SD program allows [students] to exercise, communicate, connect and be successful,” said Walker. “For clients who feel pressure on their joints constantly, the water alleviates that pain and helps cause comfort and the ability to focus on other tasks. It’s been shown that communication also grows in non-verbal students when learning in water!”
Since drowning is one of the top leading causes of death for people with Autism due to water’s calming effect, Walker says it’s important to teach water safety and set boundaries with students in hopes of reducing the number of drowning incidents amongst this population.