Isaac Gibson

Swimming with Autism

Having a child with autism raises a lot of challenges, but you want them to have the same opportunities as every other child. Emma and Keel and their son Isaac have been learning to swim with Places Leisure and have told us how they have turned a fear of the water into a love of the water.

Isaac’s first experience of the pool was as a baby when he did a parent and baby course. But when Emma returned to work, they were unable to continue this. They decided to join a local swimming group just before he started school. Learning to swim is an important life skill that they wanted Isaac to have. He initially joined group sessions, but as the weeks went on, he didn't seem to improve - other pupils moved on but Isaac didn't seem to develop. Even when he had water from the watering can be sprinkled over his head, he would become quite scared. After a year in Red Caps, they decide to try another approach and enrolled on 1:1 lessons, the change has been remarkable.
“Isaac was terrified of water; his confidence in water was non-existent. Now he’s learning to dive! Everywhere we go where there’s a pool he's straight in; he even swims in the sea when we’re on holiday!” says mum Emma.

One of the key components of success has been the relationship Isaac has with his teacher, Claire. They have found a way to work with our Course Hub and I-pods that aid with Isaac’s learning. Claire can show Isaac the list of skills he’s working towards, and then they tick them off as he completes them. Isaac knows in advance what he’ll be working on and what is required if a change is going to happen. It’s been a real success.

We asked Isaac about his swimming lessons and his answers show you just how far he has come in his time with us.

What do you love about your swimming lessons?
I like 1:1 lessons as they’re quieter than group sessions; I get more out of them. I like Claire and like to chat with her during my lesson which helps with my confidence.

What is your favourite activity you do in lessons?
I like swimming lengths and learning new things; I like learning to dive.

Have you been swimming anywhere else outside of your lessons?
I swim when we go to holiday parks or abroad. In Spain, I swam in the sea.

Your swimming teacher, Claire, is really pleased with the progress you’ve made. What are you most proud of achieving in swimming so far?
Winning Swimmer of the Year, and swimming 800m.

And, what swimming skill would you really like to be able to learn in the future?
Get a lot better at diving into the pool and swimming a mile!

When asked about Isaac receiving his Swimmer of the Year award last year, Emma said, “It was a Proud parent moment! He has come on so much after so long of making no progress, to now being confident in the water. Isaac was shocked and proud of himself too. I just remember the first few strokes he took swimming on the steps of the baby pool after so many lessons, to now, he just swims and swims!!”

If you’ve been inspired by Emma, Keel and Isaac’s story, or perhaps have been struggling and want to try a different approach to learning to swim please get in touch. Our centres offer a range of different lesson styles, and we’d love to help you on your learn to swim journey.