Every April 2, we celebrate World Autism Awareness Day. This international event aims to shed light on some of the challenges children with autism face. For example, there are some unique dangers that people with autism face near bodies of water.

Understanding the unique needs of individuals with autism is essential for creating safe and inclusive spaces. In today’s blog, we’ll delve into the history of World Autism Awareness Day, the campaign’s goals, and provide some practical advice for parents.

History of World Autism Awareness Day

World Autism Awareness Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007. As the name implies, the goal is to raise awareness about autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It also serves as an opportunity to advocate for the rights and well-being of people with autism worldwide.

The primary goal of the World Autism Awareness Day campaign is to foster greater understanding and acceptance of autism within society. By promoting awareness, advocacy, and education, the campaign strives to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for people with autism. The importance of embracing neurodiversity also helps provide people with autism with equal opportunities to participate in all aspects of life.

Dangers in the Pool for Individuals with Autism

Swimming pools can pose unique risks for children with autism. Due to sensory sensitivities, communication challenges, and difficulty understanding social cues, individuals with autism may be more vulnerable to accidents or incidents near the water. Some of the potential dangers include:

Wandering or Elopement

Children with autism may be drawn to water and have a tendency to wander or elope, putting them at a greater risk of drowning. Adding to the danger, kids with autism may have difficulty understanding safety rules or recognizing hazards. In turn, this can easily increase the chances of a potentially dangerous accident. 

6 Safety Tips for Children with Autism: Drowning Danger

Sensory Overload

The sights, sounds, and sensations of a swimming pool can be overwhelming for individuals with sensory sensitivities, leading to anxiety or distress.

Communication Challenges

Limited verbal communication skills may make it difficult for individuals with autism to express their needs or communicate if they are in distress while in the water.

World Autism Awareness Day: Staying Safe By the Water

Practical Tips for Pool Safety

As parents or caregivers of children with autism, it’s essential to take proactive steps to ensure their safety around swimming pools. Here are some practical tips to help mitigate some of these risks:

  1. Active Supervision: Always provide close and constant active supervision whenever your child is near a pool, even if they are proficient swimmers. Designate a responsible adult to monitor them at all times.
  2. Secure Pool Fencing: Installing a sturdy pool fence around the pool area is an excellent way to increase safety. Choosing a high fence with self-locking gates helps to prevent wandering or unauthorized access to the water.
  3. Swimming Lessons: Enroll your child in swimming lessons tailored to their abilities and needs. Teach them basic water safety skills, such as floating, treading water, and how to safely enter and exit the pool.
  4. Visual Supports: Use visual aids, such as picture schedules or social stories, to prepare your child for pool activities and reinforce safety rules.
  5. Sensory Accommodations: Provide sensory accommodations, such as earplugs or swim goggles, to help your child feel more comfortable in the water.
  6. Communication Strategies: Practice clear and concise communication strategies with your child, including visual cues or simple instructions, to help them understand safety rules and expectations.
  7. CPR and Emergency Preparedness: Familiarize yourself with CPR and basic water rescue techniques. Keep safety equipment, such as life jackets or reaching poles, readily accessible near the pool.

Buoyancy Vests and Life Jackets: Know the Difference

On World Autism Awareness Day and every day, let’s prioritize the safety and well-being of children with autism, especially in potentially hazardous environments like swimming pools. By raising awareness, advocating for inclusivity, and implementing practical safety measures, we can create a world where everyone can enjoy the water safely and with confidence.