Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - 23

AQUATICS

Aquatics and
Autism Spectrum
Disorders

The pool is custom-made for treating
conditions associated with Autism
By Andrea Salzman, MS, PT with content provided by National Swimming Pool Foundation

T

herapists and caregivers have a powerful
weapon in their fight
against autism: water.
The bathtub, shower,
or public pool can
offer countless opportunities to tame transitional stresses,
promote social encounters, correct outof-kilter motor systems, and promote
sensory integration. In water, children
have the power to harness buoyancy,
viscosity, turbulence, surface tension,
refraction, and thermal shifts. Aquatic
therapy offers so much promise for this
population that entire therapy pools
have been designed with these children
in mind.
As always in the field of physical medicine, research lags behind anecdotal
evidence. Intuitively, many pediatric
clinicians believe in the power of the
pool. In the literature, clinicians have
reported a substantial increase in swim
skills, attention, muscle strength, balance, tolerating touch, initiating/maintaining eye contact, and water safety
during their sessions with young children
with autism. Providers who require assistance creating aquatic treatment ideas
and skill-specific challenges can benefit
from reading their findings.

To date, there are few gold-standard
clinical trials that support aquatic therapy for the treatment of autism. This is
interpreted-in all probability, prematurely-by some as a reason to deny
aquatic therapy for children with this
diagnosis. This represents a fundamental misunderstanding of what aquatic
therapy is. Insurers who deny aquatic
therapy, yet readily approve of their landbased counterparts, do not understand
that the pool is just another tool. Much
like a therapeutic ball, a bolster, a mat or
a swing, the pool is a means to an end,
not a treatment in and of itself.
Truly, there is no such procedure as
aquatic therapy. Instead, there is neuromuscular re-education, trained in
the water. Or therapeutic exercise performed in a space dominated by buoyancy. Or sensory training practiced in
a room overloaded with warm, viscous
molecules. Insurers who would never
consider denying therapists the right to
use a splash-table or bucket in the clinic
have little leg to stand on when denying those same clinicians the right to a
"really big" pail.
Many clinicians believe that children
with autism have difficulty with change
because they are unable to distinguish
relevant from irrelevant information,

resulting in huge difficulties with decision-making. Such children often cannot "make up their minds" or make a
simple A-versus-B choice. These children have a need for sameness and
have a strong need for rituals and
routine. Free time is very difficult for
them to manage. Additionally, children
with autism have organizational and
sequencing problems. These children
don't know where to start, what comes
next, or when a task is finished. The
child's life can become one long series
of tragic interruptions.
Enter the pool. In addition to the normal therapy pursuits of strengthening,
balance training, and range of motion
(ROM), the pool is an excellent location
to work on:
* Transitional stress
* Social interactions
* Body awareness and kinesthesia
* Tactile processing
* Vestibular processing, and
* Visual processing
Water activities can provide autistic
children with the opportunity to embrace
change. Even the act of entering the pool
from the deck is a massive leap into
uncertainty, and parents looking for ways
to promote acceptance of change can use
the pool for this end...and beyond. ■
FACILITY FORUM | 23



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Facility Forum - Spring 2018

Safe Ice Resurfacer Operations Online
Addressing Violence & Harassment in Recreational Facilities
Combatting Workplace Violence & Harassment: Four Tips for Employers
With Irrigation: Green = Safer
AODA for the Facility Manager
Truth, Reconciliation, Cemeteries
ORFA Professional Designations
Aquatics and Autism Spectrum Disorders
Energy Champion – The Engine to Excel
ORFA Awards & Recognition
Emergency Evacuations
Recreation Facilities Asset Management (RFAM)
Member Profile – Terry Vachon, General Manager Parks, Culture and Recreation, Clearview Township
Annual Professional Development & EXPO
FACTS: Arena Figure Skating Accident Claim Study
A Post Mortem of a Community’s Declared Recreation Facilities Emergency
Bump Testing Ammonia Sensors
Index of Advertisers
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - Intro
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - cover1
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - cover2
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - 3
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - 4
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - 5
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - 6
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - Safe Ice Resurfacer Operations Online
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - Addressing Violence & Harassment in Recreational Facilities
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - 9
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - 10
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - Combatting Workplace Violence & Harassment: Four Tips for Employers
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - 12
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - With Irrigation: Green = Safer
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - 14
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - 15
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - AODA for the Facility Manager
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - 17
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - Truth, Reconciliation, Cemeteries
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - 19
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - ORFA Professional Designations
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - 21
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - 22
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - Aquatics and Autism Spectrum Disorders
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - 24
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - Energy Champion – The Engine to Excel
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - 26
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - 27
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - ORFA Awards & Recognition
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - Emergency Evacuations
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - Recreation Facilities Asset Management (RFAM)
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - 31
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - 32
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - Member Profile – Terry Vachon, General Manager Parks, Culture and Recreation, Clearview Township
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - 34
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - 35
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - Annual Professional Development & EXPO
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - FACTS: Arena Figure Skating Accident Claim Study
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - A Post Mortem of a Community’s Declared Recreation Facilities Emergency
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - 39
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - 40
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - 41
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - 42
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - Bump Testing Ammonia Sensors
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - 44
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - 45
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - Index of Advertisers
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - cover3
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - cover4
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - outsert1
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - outsert2
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - outsert3
Facility Forum - Spring 2018 - outsert4
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/ORFQ/ORFQ0118
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/ORFQ/ORFQ0417
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/ORFQ/ORFQ0317
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/ORFQ/ORFQ0217
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/ORFQ/ORFQ0117
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/ORFQ/ORFQ0416
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/ORFQ/ORFQ0316
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/ORFQ/ORFQ0216
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/ORFQ/ORFQ0116
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/ORFQ/ORFB0215
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/ORFQ/ORFB0115
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com