At British Swim School of Downtown Chicago, our mission is to ensure that every person, regardless of age or ability, has the opportunity to become a safe and happy swimmer. In fact, our aquatics program was initially designed with special abilities in mind back in 1981! Our Special Abilities program takes our traditional British Swim School methods and places them into a specially designed program, allowing us to work with any swimmer to help them feel comfortable and safe in the water. Swim lessons are modified from our traditional program on a case-by-case basis to support children with special abilities, keeping in mind that there is no “one size fits all” approach.
The British Swim School Special Abilities program is designed to focus on what the student CAN do, not what they CAN NOT. We never want to limit a student’s potential and will work to progress them along in every level of the program. Ultimately, our goal is to assimilate the student into the traditional program once they’re ready. We believe that each student is capable of being assimilated into the traditional program!
Parent or guardian involvement is the cornerstone of our Special Abilities program. Immediately upon enrollment, an initial meeting is scheduled to learn as much as possible about the student prior to their first lesson and to understand the goals of the caregiver. The more information that we receive, the more we can tailor and adapt the curriculum to fit the needs of the student! Once the initial meeting has taken place, we develop a detailed plan that provides a clear outline of how we will modify the lessons and what to expect during the first weeks of the program.
Step one is to identify the Instructor that will be the right fit to get the best possible results from each student. In selecting an instructor, we consider temperament, voice quality and tone, gender, personality and any other relevant factors based on the specific needs of the swimmer.
Step two is to collaborate with the parent to identify the right time and location for the lessons. This decision considers noise level, light exposure, outside stimulation, time of day, and location. Our goal is to provide the best possible learning environment for each student!
The final step is to identify the best class level based on the abilities and goals of the swimmer. Our Dolphin 1 and Dolphin 2 class ratio can be 1:1 or 2:1 depending on the requirements and goals of each participant.
Continuous feedback and regular check ins can be expected to review progress and identify any changes that are needed!
For families with children of special abilities, the comparatively high risk of drowning makes learning to swim even more critical. Sadly, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for autistic children and is on the rise for many others. With this in mind, all children need to know what to do when they find themselves unexpectedly in the water. The ability to stay calm in these situations is crucial!
Participation in any aquatics program provides many other benefits in addition to water safety! In-water training and instruction can complement many other land-based physical programs and activities. Physical support in the water allows many individuals to function more independently with less or no support, allowing them to do certain things in the water that they’re unable to do outside of it. This is very exciting and can enhance self-image and confidence!
One of the biggest benefits of learning skills through aquatics is that it can aid in improved fitness, swim ability, water safety and quality of leisure time through instructional tasks, corrective feedback and structured practice!
Following the mantra, ‘Survival of the Littlest,’ our team is dedicated to teaching water survival skills to individuals of every age and ability. Our Special Abilities program is offered at select locations. Please contact your local British Swim School for more information!