Swimming with Autism

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Dates for Spring Session 2022:  Mar 21 to May 18



Please email Lisa Thompson, Program Director HERE to be added to the waiting list.  You will be notified when registration opens for the spring session.


What is “Swimming with Autism”?

The Autism Society of Greater Akron (ASGA) partnered with the Greater Akron YMCA to develop “Swimming with Autism,” a water safety program that launched in the Fall of 2017. Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are 160 times as likely to die from drowning as the general pediatric population. Given this exceptionally heightened risk of drowning for children with autism, swimming classes should be the intervention of top priority.

Accidental drowning for children with autism is compounded by the fact that roughly half attempt to leave (“elope”) from a safe environment, a rate nearly four times higher than their unaffected siblings. With such alarming rates, ASGA set out to develop an intensive safety program for children with autism and other developmental disabilities in our community.

Swimming with Autism is based on a curriculum and program designed by the Autism Society of San Diego; ASGA is the third affiliate of the Autism Society of America to roll out this life-saving initiative.The main goal for our participants is safety first and swimming second. We hope that individuals who go through this program continue their instruction with the YMCA after the ASGA program ends. Aquatic instructors receive training in modified safety swimming skills and techniques, the characteristics of autism, communication techniques, and instructional and behavioral strategies to utilize with students. Training entails time in the classroom and hands-on experience with students in the pool.


About the Program

Program Focus: water safety, water entry and exit, breath control, balance and floatation, and combined arm and leg action through the water.

Requirements of participants: ages 6 through adult accepted, must be diagnosed with autism or other developmental disability, have the ability to walk unassisted, and be able to work one-on-one with a swim instructor.

NOTE: If your swimmer can swim more than 15 feet in the pool, this program may not be suitable for them.




What are the dates, times and location? 

This program offers 30-minute one-on-one lessons.

Lessons are offered at the Kohl Family YMCA located at 477 E Market Street, Akron OH 44304.

Parents are expected to attend a mandatory parent orientation prior to the start of the program and a graduation celebration will conclude the program.


What is the cost?

The cost of the program is $400 ($700 Value) which is approximately $22 per lesson for 30 minutes of specialized one-on-one instruction.  The reduced rate to families is made possible through funding from a grant from Pepsico, Incept Corporation and ASGA fundraising efforts.  

County Board of DD dollars may be used as payment for this program, but ASGA is not a Medicaid or Waiver provider.  

Do you need more information?

If you have any questions or need additional information, contact Lisa Thompson via email HERE or via phone at 330-940-1441, ext. 2.

Thank you to our partners:


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Event Details

Event Start Date 03-21-2022 6:00 pm
Location Akron YMCA