Swimming with Autism

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Sadly, due to the current COVID-19 pandamic circumstances, this program is on hold until further notice. 



Please email Lisa Thompson, Program Director HERE to be added to the waiting list.  You will be notified when this program is being offered again.

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.




What are the dates, times and location? 

This program offers 30-minute one-on-one lessons twice each week in the Spring (Feb/Mar/Apr) and Fall (Oct/Nov/Dec).

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

A family swim party and graduation ceremony will conclude the program. Parents are expected to attend a mandatory parent orientation prior to the start of 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 grants, sponsorships 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.  

Registration is a pre-approval process with payment made once the participant is approved for the program.  Payment options for the session will include cash, check or credit card (with additional fee).


How do I register for the program?

Registration is a pre-approval process to ensure that this program is a fit for every swimmer and does not guarantee acceptance. Please use the register now button below to submit your registration for consideration.




Do you need more information?

If you have any questions, need additional information or want to be added to the waiting list for future programs, contact Lisa Thompson via email HERE or via phone at 330-940-1441, ext. 2.




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Event Details

Event Start Date 12-31-2020 6:00 pm
Location Akron YMCA