Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Spotlight on Local Resources: Transitioning Into Adulthood

By Kara Jackman

It is that time of year. Graduation. Commencement, or the end of education provided by the state are all right around the corner. Parents hope that with each year their children grow and become more independent. Independence is encouraged, so long as there is a structure to each day, a beginning, a middle, and an end. So what do your budding adults do next?




Volunteerism and Internships
If you are thinking about taking a gap year, consider volunteering or an internship. Think about the activities and things that interest you and find a volunteer opportunities near you. If you like animals, the ASPCA has chapters all over the country.  If you like people, find a museum, church, or service organization that helps people. A great place to search for paid and unpaid internships is Indeed.com. Local council on aging, hospitals, and homeless shelters are always in need of an extra pair of hands. As a volunteer or intern, you will gain on-the-job skills, increase self-awareness, and interpersonal skills.

Day Programs
For adults in need of additional care, a day program could assist in helping you and your family improve the structure within your homes. One place to start would be looking for an adult day program in your area. Head over to Google and use the search terms "local resources for adults developmentally delayed." Or try placing your state or region name in the search box and include the terms "adult day programming" to see what comes up.


Let's take Texas as an example. What came up as a result of the above search? A helpful list of Home and Community-Based services in Texas. In addition, there are Texas Health and Human Services's Local Intellectual and Developmental Disability Authorities Directory. Each state should have some resources like these. The Arc is a national nonprofit that helps individuals with intellectual and developmental disability live active and engaged lives. They have chapters in each state. Please look up resources near you, if you need them.


Adult Day Care vs. Adult Day Programs
Now, to be clear, I am not talking about "Adult day care facilities," but I am talking about a place where an adult with mildly compromised cognitive and intellectual abilities could go to grow their vocational, leadership, and interpersonal skills. For example, Texas has a list of a variety of different places that fall under the category of adult day care or adult day facilities. Many of them are for people that need round-the-clock medical and physical care. Others may be more geared to higher -functioning adults. There is only one way to find out what each facility has to offer, call or email to ask questions.

Adult Programming - What To Ask? 
Be sure to review what each location has to offer, where they are located in relation to your work or home, and the kinds of needs that your newly-minted adult requires. You must keep all these elements in mind when searching for the right placement. Ask lots of questions about the locations: cleanliness, services, and how they interact with the communities they serve. If you know another family in the day program's community, ask them what they think of their experience. Ultimately, finding the right place is like developing a friendship or relationship, you will know the right fit when it comes along. 

Humans, Creatures of Habit and Routine
While money and job training are nice, the goal is to achieve a daily routine as your young adult transitions our of school and into the real world. Think about the flow of your day. In the morning, you wake, shower and have breakfast. Then you go to work. At lunchtime, you stop, eat something, or maybe work out. You return to work and finally return home for dinner and time with the family. This is how we go through our days. Adults with disabilities need this structure, too. Without it the abilities and knowledge they do have will wither. Socializing will become more difficult and overuse of TV, social media, and other technology could turn into an unhealthy outlet.

Humans are creatures of habit and routine. Finding a place where the adult in your home can go to work, volunteer, intern, or be part of a community in a day program could open them up to improved socializing, sky rocketed self-esteem from a hard day's work, and a bunch of new experiences they can share each night at the dinner table.


Other Resources 

The Arc 


U.S. Health and Human Services Website


Ask The Therapist: Getting That Guilt Under Control


By Jackie A. Castro, MFT


Did you know that more often than not, people who are compassionate to others, are downright mean to themselves? They are forgiving of others, but extremely harsh on themselves.


They are overly committed, work extremely hard, and always strive to do their best. When things go well, they hardly take notice. Yet, when something goes wrong, they are the first person to blame themselves. They then berate, condemn, and speak to themselves in a harsh voice. They go on and on about what they  'should have' done, or not done. Oftentimes, the self-deprecating rant goes on for days only to accomplish nothing. Sound familiar? Do you know someone like that? Maybe yourself?


I'm describing something I call 'self guilt,' as opposed to real guilt like the guilt felt after committing a crime or being hurtful to another person. Basically, self guilt is a feeling we 'sentence' ourselves to for something that's difficult to understand. Most often, we see this feeling arise in people who have experienced trauma.

Examples:

  • You are  in a car accident. Before you even step out of the car, you are taking blame.
  • You were abused as a child or adult, and blame yourself for provoking the abuser.
  • You are a mother and berate yourself whenever something wrong happens to your child.
Or perhaps, you are a parent of a child who was born with a facial difference. You constantly find fault with yourself. You obsess about what you could have done differently even though. intellectually you know the truth. Emotionally, you blame yourself and live in a constant state of guilt.


The Origin of Guilt
Guilt is a way to explain that which we cannot understand. It's almost always about putting the blame on ourselves, when we are not at fault. No one is.  This is especially true for parents who have a child born with a facial difference. Whatever the doctor told you about the genetic origins of the craniofacial condition is often dismissed. Putting blame on yourself somehow feels more logical, even though in truth, it's false.


The idea of self-blame and self-guilt comes from the very human desire for explanations. Parents feel very, very responsible for the well being of their children. Once again, when things are right, we feel good, but when things are wrong, we tend to beat ourselves up.


In Therapy
As a therapist, I routinely see people who are highly anxious or very depressed as a result of having a child born with varying medical conditions, mental health, or behavioral issues. While we assume that the guilt, anxiety, and depression are a direct result of the event, in this case the birth of a child, it's actually not true. The emotions actually are born of our own ingrained, personal thoughts and beliefs. We have carried these emotions, beliefs, and thoughts with us for most of our lives. Most of these thoughts manifest themselves on an unconscious level. In therapy, I work with parents to untangle these beliefs, thoughts, and emotions.


Parents universally come to therapy with feelings of guilt. They start off by telling me what they think they did wrong during their pregnancy and how they are currently feeling badly about their child's health, happiness, and social issues. They speak in terms of absolutes. I often hear phrases like "It's all my fault," or "My child is suffering because of me."


These parents go on to tell me that they are constantly feeling anxious and upset. They worry and second guess their decisions about medical procedures. They imagine that their child is taking a turn for the worse. They are concerned about bills and the high cost of medical procedures. Eventually, they begin to doubt their abilities and feel inadequate for not being good enough. They feel both overwhelmed and upset. It's very common for nervous parents to wind up as highly, depressed parents. They have problems coping with life and end up feeling hopeless and sad.


How To Combat Guilt
Feelings happen not from the event, but how we think about the event. So while it was shocking to hear the diagnosis, and natural that we would experience a myriad of emotions, we must understand that these thoughts and feelings are falsely created in our own minds. I say this, not to blame you, but to inform you that sometimes our own mind can be our worst enemy. Most of us have no idea that our thoughts and feelings are connected.


Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
Here's the good news. You can learn how to manage the thoughts  that trigger bad feelings. You can learn how to identify how these thoughts, or cognitions, are simply not true.  The goal is not to think positively. Rather, the goal is to think rationally, or in a more balanced fashion.


I often utilize a type of therapy that is known as Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). CBT is considered to be one of the most cutting-edge, effective ways to manage feelings that get in the way of living happy, productive lives. CBT helps you look at your thoughts, identify the distortions, and reframe them in order to see a more realistic truth.


For example, if your child is bullied, we assume you will have a reaction. What do you think it will be? Your first thoughts will probably be connected to anger, sadness, or fear. Believe it or not, the feelings that occur are not so much about the event, but your thoughts about the event. See if you can identify what feeling would occur with each thought:


"It's not fair that my child has to go through this."

"This is all my fault. I'm the one who created this child and they are suffering because of me."

"This is just the beginning. What if this bullying gets worse and worse?"


I'm sure you know the answers, but just in case, let me clue you in. Whenever we have thoughts about things not being fair, you are going to feel angry. When you blame yourself, you are feeling guilty. And, when you worry about the future, you are guaranteed to feel anxious.


Upsetting feelings are almost always a byproduct of a thought. And nearly all of these upsetting thoughts have some kind of cognitive distortion.


Rethink Your Guilt With CBT
When we think in terms of self blame, we will feel guilt. The feeling of guilt is something that was most likely learned in the past, instilled in us while growing up. CBT will help you to unlearn this pattern of thinking, replacing it with more helpful ways of thinking.


Going back to the example of a child getting bullied, we can learn more helpful ways of thinking. I refer to this as neutral thinking. Neutral thinking allows us to observe and accept a situation for what it is. If necessary, we then can think calmly about any actions that are necessary to take. We learn how to behave rationally as opposed to emotionally.


Dialing It Back
You might believe that experiencing guilt can be helpful, and you have a point. Guilt is an emotion that basically keeps us from doing wrong and many would say it helps keep a moral compass. However, if you make a list of how guilt helps, versus how it hurts, chances are good that you will find it hurts more than it helps. That's where I tell my clients to 'dial it back'. Instead of feeling guilt at one hundred percent, maybe you'd like to feel it at thirty percent or less.


Reframing Your Thoughts
Guilty thoughts center around disappointment. You feel as if you didn't live up to the high, oftentimes, unrealistic standards you impose on yourself. These thoughts generally have a 'should' statement attached. 'I should have done this, or 'If only I'd done that.' How are these thoughts helping you right now? They are generally thoughts that relate to the past. Can you go back in time? Do you have a time machine? My guess is that you don't.


Be Kind
Instead of beating yourself up, it's far more productive to speak kindly to yourself. Talk to yourself the way you would talk to a good friend who was going through the same thing that you are. You would not judge. I bet you would remind that friend of all the good things they've done. Ultimately, you'd give the friend a big hug.


Sometimes we need to give ourselves that hug. We need to remind ourselves that we are doing the best we can despite a boat load of challenges. Most of you were ill prepared to raise a child with a facial difference or medical challenges. You literally had to take a crash course in both childrearing and the complicated diagnosis, while keeping up with the daily responsibilities at work and at home. It's a lot!


Give Yourself A Break
When you find yourself speaking in absolutes or predicting a future that you can't foresee, stop. Take a deep breath and fight that negative thought with the truth. You'll find that almost all of our absolute thinking contains many shades of grey. Our faulty thinking does not provide the answers we are seeking.


Be gentle with yourself, focus on real truths, like the good you do rather than thoughts that scold or admonish you. Guilt brings us down while compassion brings us up. Be as good to yourself as you are to others. Be aware and conscious of your thoughts.


In Summary
Guilt is a a self-imposed emotion. It is based on our own moral standard of what we believe to be right and wrong. Generally speaking, it's based on the idea that we have to be perfect in order to be good. The feeling is almost always factually incorrect and unhelpful.


Self guilt is always felt by people who are inherently good.  We have good intentions and want to do our very best. The problem is that the feelings often work against us. We end up feeling disproportionately bad about ourselves. That's simply not fair.


The good news is that we can learn how to mange these emotions so that we can think more neutrally. Neutral thinking will allow us to see things clearly and make good, sound decisions based on fact, not feeling.


Learn how to be good to yourself. Remind yourself of your own worth and value. Instead of focusing on what you did wrong, tell yourself what you did right. Stay in the moment. Learn self love and acceptance so that you can share these positive emotions with your family.


Jackie A. Castro is a licensed Marriage Family Therapist with a private practice in Granda Hills, California
www.therapywithcare.com

© 2019 Jackie A. Castro, MFT

Monday, April 15, 2019

30 Stories 30 Faces 30 Years: Emily and Service Dog Hank Merrill





What CCA Means To Emily & Hank!

B - Because everybody treats us as equal rank!

E - Easy to be who we really are!

Y -Years go by quick but our CCA family is never far!

O - Oodles of fun and allows hank to be my emotional glue

U - Understanding, Acceptance & #BeYou!
                                                                                   - The Merrills 

Hank Merrill is a six-year old, Australian Labradoodle born in Sanford, North Carolina.  A few years ago, Hank flew on an airplane to join the Merrill clan in Tinton Falls, New Jersey. Mom, Nancy, and Dad, Gary, surprised Emily with the dog to help her “keep calm and assist her with walking.” Emily’s sister, Abigail, was excited for the new addition to the Merrill household, too. 

Nancy says, “Hank’s purpose is to bring peace, serenity, and love.”  Emily says, “Hank is my world and he has made me more independent.” When Emily and Hank go out together, she says, “People focus on Hank, not me.” He goes to every appointment at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) where Emily is treated for Goldenhar syndrome and a genetic heart condition called Tetralogy of Fallot.  CHOP’s surgical team allows service animals to lie in bed with patients as they drift off to sleep before surgery. Then, Emily and Hank are reunited in the recovery room after it is all over.  

Hank is with Emily at each physical, occupational, and speech therapy session, too. Hank loves to train, perform tricks, chase tennis balls, pose for pictures on Instagram where he @servicedoghank and @em.the.warrior have a large and loyal following. Hank hates water and being groomed. He is also not a big eater, but Emily helps him with that too. 

Everyone in town knows Hank. He is a bit of rock star in his own right! Perhaps, Nancy puts it best, “He allows Emily to be accepted better in an unaccepting world.” 

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Innovative Ways to Donate: Donate a Your Used Car, Truck or Boat




Reduce Your Stress with One Less Vehicle. Donate It to Children’s Craniofacial Association.

CCA Kids provides free and convenient pick-up for all vehicle donations! From cars, trucks, RVs and more—we accept almost any type of vehicle donation that meets the following basic requirements:

1. Vehicle has a clear title.
2. Vehicle is in one piece but does not need to be running.
3. Vehicle is tow truck accessible.

Donating a vehicle is easy and tax-deductible! The proceeds help CCA Kids continue to empower and give hope to individuals and families affected by facial differences.

Simply call 877-570-4222 or submit the secure online donation form at https://careasy.org/nonprofit/childrens-craniofacial-association.

Our expert Donor Representatives are here seven days a week and will reach out to you to arrange for your vehicle to be picked up at a time that works for you.

Donate your vehicle today! Our Vehicle Donation Support Team will take you through the process from start to finish.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

#WonderWednesday: Madisyn Helps Western Pennsylvania Students Choose Kind




Madisyn and Connoquenessing Valley Elementary School teachers. 

Editor's Note: Many thanks to Madisyn! She encouraged her school to #choosekind. Teacher Audrey Buban shares what it is like to have Madisyn in the classroom in the text below.

Thank you for your amazing fundraising, too. $800 is a huge amount. What an impact you are having! Just think, everyone who purchased one of those bracelets has a reminder on their arm at all times to #ChooseKind. You are making the world a better place one wrist at a time. 

Connoquenessing Valley Elementary School within the Seneca Valley School District has been spreading the awareness and acceptance of craniofacial conditions. We were motivated to action by one of our first grade students. Her name is Madisyn and she has Crouzon Syndrome. This year we watched her undergo yet another surgery with an inspiring level of positivity and bravery. Over the past two months we have:

1) Read and discussed the books "Wonder" and "We Are All Wonders" by R. J. Palacio during class meetings.
2) Made a school-wide kindness chain with an act of kindness described by each of our students on each link of the chain.
3) Had the wonderful pleasure of having Nick Weise (an amazing gentleman who has a craniofacial condition)  come and share his story with our school.
4) Raised $800 for the Children’s Craniofacial Association through the sale of "Choose Kind" Bracelets.

We are so proud of our sweet Madisyn. She is strong, feisty, funny, and kind. She is a role model for her peers and loved by our entire school."




Wednesday, April 3, 2019

#WonderWednesday: Mason Brings Wonder to San Antonio


The Leibham's make San Antonio a "Wonder"ful place. In March Mason and his Mom Vanessa spoke at a local elementary school. In April they will host a charitable event to benefit CCA kids. 

The busy bees, Mason and Vanessa, began their kindness travels at Lamar Elementary in San Antonio, TX on Monday, March 4th. They spoke to Ms. Martinez fourth grade class. The students just read the book "Wonder." 
Mrs. Martinez's class asked questions to Mason and his Mom about their life experiences and how it compared to Auggie's story. Based on the photo, it looks like these students made a new friend in Mason and deepened their empathy skills through reading R.J. Palacio's best-selling book. 
With the speaking engagement complete, Mason is now preparing to host a crawfish boil, rib cook-off, and country music event on April 18th in San Antonio. Enjoy the best, mud bug boil, righteous rib recipes, and the best burgers in town. All are guaranteed to fill you up! Then rock out to the country music stylings of JJ Henson, Nick Lawrence, Mario Flores, and Rex McNeil. 


Tickets include an all-access pass to music, games, food, drinks, and spirits. Meet the crawfish king and dance to country musician There will be several chances to win some awesome raffle prizes all to support CCA!Purchase tickets in advance for $15 on the Facebook event page. Tickets for sale the day of the event on April 18th for $20. All proceeds will benefit CCA! 

Thank you to OneGuard Home Warranty and Service Plans, HHI Home Inspections, and local, San Antonio Realtors for their help with this event. 

Thanks so much for sharing your story, Mason and Vanessa, and hosting this upcoming event.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

30 Stories 30 Faces 30 Years: David Roche



David Roche with his wonderful wife, Marlena, at an Indianapolis speaking engagement 


“As a child I was alone with my face. At my first CCA Retreat, children jumped with joy. I too became a child, shared their joy, and felt incredible healing.”
           
                               David Roche, Roberts Creek, British Columbia

David Roche is a performer, humorist, author, and inspirational speaker that lives with his wife, Marlena, in Roberts Creek, British Columbia. He enjoys working with students of all ages as a motivational speaker. In 2018, he appeared in the film “Happy Face,” by french filmmaker Alexandre Franchi.  David enjoys spending each day with the love of his life, writing his next book, all while watching the cedars outside his window sway.

Monday, April 1, 2019

30 Faces 30 Stories 30 Years: Tommy Dale


Tommy and Jeremy competing
on the Horseheads Unified
Basketball team


"Being a part of the CCA family has exposed me to lifelong friendships and unforgettable memories. CCA’s focus on acceptance of all differences is very important to me and has inspired me to do the same every day."

-Tommy Dale, #SuperSib to Jeremy Dale




2013 Annual Retreat
(L- R) Cody Dale, Jacob Dankelson, Robbie Seitz,
Tommy Dale, Jeremy Dale, Peter Dankelson
Tommy Dale is a 17-year old Junior from Horseheads, New York. He lives with his father and mother, George and Kristine, and brothers, Cody and Jeremy. Tommy enjoys competition through his favorite sports: soccer and wrestling. We feature Tommy, who we've seen show patience and perseverance in his desire to help his brother, Jeremy, born with Goldenhar syndrome. Tommy saw the benefit sports had on his social and physical life and through these activities and his participation with CCA, he says he's learned that “we are all the same, all equal." He combined this knowledge and created a unified sports program at Horseheads High School, open to people from a variety of backgrounds and abilities. Tommy hoped to make sports more accessible to students, so they may experience the thrill of competition. Together, Jeremy and Tommy were able to share the basketball court, while welcoming others to enjoy the same experience.



Tommy plans to attend college after he completes his senior year in high school. He is interested in Robert Morris University among other schools in the Northeast. Tommy is quite skilled in mathematics, loves traveling, and watching the most recent Star Wars movies with his family. 
2017 Annual Retreat
(L- R) Cody Dale, Jacob Dankelson, Robbie Seitz,
Tommy Dale, Jeremy Dale, Peter Dankelson

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Why Kindness Matters...




By Christine Clinton 

After reading the book "Wonder" I realized for the first time that I was not alone in being bullied. In fact, Auggie and I shared nearly the exact same experience. Like Auggie, I had my own Julian when I was mainstreamed into the fourth grade. Helen was my Julian. She made sure to tell all of the other children in the fourth-grade class, besides my sister and my best friend Elizabeth, not to talk to me or have anything to do with me, because I looked physically different. She made sure to make my life miserable in school. 



After that experience as a child, I want to be able to help the youth of today realize that people who are physically different are people too. When I was younger, I was bullied so much in school. I was going to the special school for five years, and while I felt like I didn't need to be there necessarily, I felt like I belonged there. Then, I was mainstreamed into my sister's school, and went into the fifth grade. Everyone in the fifth grade class, the students and the teacher, loved me. However, because I wasn't properly taught in the special school, and I was so far behind, I had to be put back into the fourth grade class, which was my sister's class. That is when everything started for me. One girl didn't like me because I was physically different, and she told all of the other students in the fourth grade class, except for my sister and my best friend Elizabeth to have nothing to do with me because of my physical differences.  Because of her, she made my life miserable in school.


Adults haven't always been so kind to me either, which is sad, because you would think that adults would know better and do better. Unfortunately, some adults need to be educated about kindness too. Kindness is so very important, and kindness matters...All the time.

At the end of the day, everyone, no matter their age, needs to find ways to choose kind. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

#WonderWednesday: Melissa Brings Wonder Story to College Students




    Melissa McGowan of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania went to West Liberty University in January to speak to future physical education teachers. The focus of the course for these future teachers was on including adaptive athletics into the physical education class planning. Melissa shared in order to provide a picture of how to best approach inclusion of the whole child or student in the classroom. She used her experience as a mother to Abigail, her daughter born with Pfeiffer syndrome. Melissa spoke about creating a positive environment for all students. Finally, she asked the students to discuss how they would handle differences of all kinds in their future classrooms.

    The physical education professor at West Liberty University said that Melissa created a "Clear presentation, including images shown on her slideshow and through her personal storytelling."

    "Melissa was an amazing representative of CCA. She was knowledgeable, passionate, and students could easily relate to her. She was super organized and made the information easy to understand. Her main message of seeing the child--and not just seeing the label or diagnosis--was clear and convincing. We were so grateful that Melissa came and shared so much with us!"


    Thank you Melissa for sharing your story with these college students.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Participants Needed for Goldenhar Syndrome Research Study at Baylor University



Please help Baylor University College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital with their study on the genetic origins of Goldenhar syndrome. Richard Alan Lewis, M.D., M.S. needs your help to keep this study alive. Blood samples and a medical history are required of you. Here is more information about what Dr. Lewis hopes to gain through this research. 



"In the past two years, we at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital have begun a genetic research program to look for the genetic cause(s) of Goldenhar Syndrome (also variously called Hemifacial Microsomia and Facio-Auriculo-Vertebral Spectrum). You may be aware that very little is known about the genetic explanation for these rare disorders, despite their variable effects on the eye, the ear, the face, the limbs and skeleton, and occasionally the kidney, among others. Also, these conditions vary widely from one family to another, so we expect that there is more than one genetic explanation for the same "diagnosis”, thus making the task of unraveling the true explanation(s) in any one family considerably more challenging! Many families have already had conventional genetic testing, which usually yields almost no useful information.

As part of The Center for Mendelian Genomics at Baylor College of Medicine, I am pursuing the genetic explanation(s) for the Goldenhar Syndrome and related conditions.

Since you as parents have an essential role in caring for, monitoring, and guiding the education of these children and young adults, I would appreciate most sincerely your joining us in this effort. Without your dedication and willingness, we cannot achieve the understanding that both the families and many scientists and physicians have wondered about for decades! There is no cost to any family for the detailed genetic analyses that will be done.

If you are interested in helping your child and in joining this research program, please contact me. 
Please call my academic office at (713) 798-3030 or email me at rlewis@bcm.edu. 

If I am not in the office, please leave a voice mail with your name and a phone number for me to return your call. Also, please mention Goldenhar Syndrome or Hemifacial Microsomia in the message. I will call back and explain the details!

Thank you! Our team here is most eager to proceed with this unique and exceptionally important research program!"

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Safe Swimming for Kids with Autism

Spring Break is here and Summer is just around the corner! With outdoor fun on the horizon - and a HUGE pool party at this year's Annual Retreat in Scottsdale, AZ- we wanted to bring you information about swimming safety. Our guest blogger, Angela Tollersons, tailored this article to families who have children with autism. 

Did you know that some people in our CCA community also have autism? If so, these tips are especially important to check out. We welcome these suggestions and hope you can incorporate them into your fun, spring and summer plans. 

Next month, April, is Autism Awareness Month. 

How to Keep Swimming Safe for Kids with Autism

The benefits of swimming for children with autism are numerous. Swimming can improve your child’s cognitive function, provide a positive social outlet, and get your child excited about physical activity. And since drowning accidents are extremely prevalent for people with autism, strong swimming skills can prove to be a powerful tool for keeping your child safe for life.

Build a Foundation

It’s important to make your child’s first swimming experience a fun and relaxing one.

Take things slowly the first few times at the pool so she’s not overwhelmed and try to go to the pool when it’s quieter and bit less crowded than normal. This way she’ll have plenty of space to move around and get used to the water without distractions.

Teach her about pool safety by talking about how deep each part of the water is, showing her where the lifeguards are, and explaining to her that she should only be in the water if you or another designated adult is nearby.

Sign Your Child Up for Swim Classes

But not just any swim classes. An instructor who has been trained specifically for teaching special needs swimming classes will be the most effective teacher for your child. Some of these establishments even seek financial aid from third party organizations in an effort to make your child’s lessons more affordable.

Make a mental note of you and your child’s needs before checking out potential swimming instructors. Do you want him to learn with other children or alone? What learning methods suit him best? Keep these things in mind when choosing a program for your child.

Teach Swimming Safety and Water Safety Separately

A common practice for parents of children with special needs is to make it clear to their child that swimming safety and water safety are two completely separate things.

While your child might understand the importance of swimming safety, she’ll likely only associate those rules with being in the pool you frequent together. What she might not realize is that these rules apply to other bodies of water, too.

This is why you must talk to your child about water safety too. Make sure she knows that she should never go near water without an adult with her. While she already understands this rule for swimming pools and her swimming lessons, she should know that this also applies to other bodies of water like ponds, lakes, fountains, and even large puddles.

When it comes to teaching your child how to swim, safety is the number one priority. Make sure they know the rules before they ever dip a toe in the water and you’ll both benefit from the joy and relaxation safe swimming can bring.