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If your child has autism, a sensory disorder, or a learning disability - then this is the class for you! We offer special needs swim lessons in a friendly, fun and safe environment. 


Children with autism are often drawn to water, and rates of drowning are high with 90% of wandering deaths of autistic children due to drowning. It only takes 2 inches of water and the time to answer a phone call for a child to drown. Living on an island, with water all around us, it's important that children learn to swim and learn how to be safe around water. 


For many children, with special needs or not, water can be very therapeutic.  For kids on the spectrum, water can calm their sensory overloads and the soothing environment and repetitive nature of swimming can be extremely relaxing. Swimming also helps to expand attention span in addition to improving balance and coordination. It also can assist in training body sensation, body awareness and spatial awareness. 


Some children may experience anxiety around water. Learning a new skill such as swimming, will give them confidence and you as a parent, the confidence knowing that they are safer around water. Swimming can also achieve cognitive benefits (including increased communication skills) through skill development. 


Most important of all, the sensation of the water, the weightlessness and its warm temperatures, give great pleasure to kids with sensory disorders. 

Todd Miller

Swim instructor on Saturdays

I have been teaching swimming for 12 years. Over the years I have gained a large amount of experience of teaching in various locations, with a range of ages and abilities. I currently teach ASA Stages 1 - 10, Lifeguard Rookies and Snorkelling. I spent my childhood in and around water, as my father was a Scuba Diving Instructor whilst we were in Hong Kong, which I believe to be the foundations for my passion for everything in and around water. 

Ash Sweet

Swim instructor on Fridays


I've been at Waterside Pool for 12 years and I've been teaching here for 9. In that time I've taught hundreds of children of different ages and abilities, I've also been teaching some schools including children with autism and I really enjoyed it.

I have always loved being in and around the water, which probably stems from spending my summers as a child in and around pools and the sea!

Hannah Knight

Swim instructor for the Saturday Short Breaks session

" I have worked within early years for 20 years assisting children of all different abilities and needs, from 1-1 support to group classroom activities. Combining my experience with key stage 1 pupils and passion for swimming, I have just undergone my training and am now a fully qualified swimming instructor."

Ash, Todd and Hannah have volunteered to teach the sensory swimming sessions, because they have a record of successfully teaching children with autism, not only teaching them to enjoy the water but to also swim 25m.
Genevieve Jolliffe

I'm a mum to an autistic son who absolutely loves the water! He would be in water all day if he could. However, he also has no idea of the dangers of water and being on an island, I'm in constant fear that he could drown. Becoming extremely frustrated because I could not find a swim class that was suitable for my son, I called the Ryde Waterside Pool to ask if they could help. Being incredibly understanding, having taught autistic children previously, and wanting to help their community, they agreed to the swim classes and Sensory Swim was born! We're delighted that we can bring this to our community and hope that it will be just the beginning of helping our island children who have ASD, sensory disorders and learning disabilities, become safer swimmers! 

Tips on how to prepare your child for swimming lessons:

1. Show your child videos or photos of other children swimming. 

2. Talk to them about swimming. Read storybooks, or social stories. 

3. Take them to the swimming pool to get used to the setting, including changing rooms. Perhaps even watch a lesson so they can see what will happen. 

4. Take them to a fun session that allows inflatables etc. at the pool so they associate the water with fun. 

5. Go early to the pool before your lesson to allow your child to take in their surroundings and 

acclimatize themselves. 

6. If your child likes wearing goggles, here's a you tube video to help put them on if your child does  

not like being touched.

Examples of other swim classes and it's benefits for children with autism...

**New Study shows swimming lessons may be essential for children with ASD**

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