Soothing a child with sensory issues can be difficult. Although Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a condition that is common in children on the autism spectrum, but affects many children who are not. SPD affects the way a child processes messages sent from the brain to any of the five main senses – sight, touch, hearing, taste, and smell. In a normal situation, when a child is tapped on the shoulder, his nervous system informs him that he received a light touch. When a child with SPD is tapped on the shoulder, he misinterprets the touch as a hard hit. Or, the touch is completely lost, leaving him unaware of it happening at all. Most children with SPD have a combination of both under and over sensitivity to stimuli.
Water can act as a form or relief for a child’s constant sensory stimulation. Not only are swimming lessons beneficial for learning essential water safety skills, students with sensory processing disorder get a two-fold benefit. Through water therapy, children can enjoy themselves, be soothed by their surroundings, and most importantly, overcome everyday fears. Students with SPD may have symptoms, when they are around water, to feel extremely anxious, hyper, careless, not being aware of the danger of drowning. Swimming lessons can not only teach SPD students to heighten their alertness around bodies of water, but overcome everyday tasks such as showering, taking a bath, getting their face wet, or daily hygiene. By overcoming their biggest obstacle, exposure to water, water therapy gives children with SPD greater opportunities to focus and work on other areas such as speech, motor skills, etc. Tune into the video below to learn about water therapy for children with sensory issues at Texas Swim Academy:
Short answer: they sure can! The longer answer is that swimmers face many of the same dangers from dehydration that anyone else exercising does, and I have some summertime water safety tips to help make sure you avoid getting dried out while you’re all wet.
Swimming is like any other exercise: you exert yourself and your body requires water to replenish your hydration level. The added complication is that dehydration is much harder for swimmers to notice: being immersed in water makes it easy to forget the need to stay hydrated. Summer heat makes dehydration occur more quickly, another factor that makes this time of year the perfect storm for swimmer dehydration.
Guarding against dehydration while swimming begins with knowing the symptoms. USA Swimming notes there are three simple ways to check yourself for dehydration:
- Are you thirsty? If you are, then you are already dehydrated. Young swimmers might not recognize the symptoms of thirst or may ignore them, be sure to have them take regular breaks to get fluids.
- What color is your urine? The typical pale yellow color indicates adequate hydration, however darker urine is a sign of dehydration – get some water, quick!
- Has your weight changed? This one is a little trickier, since most of us don’t hit the scale before or after a swim. But if you do weigh yourself and notice a difference, drink water to replenish yourself. Each pound lost requires about 500 mL (16 ounces) of water to rehydrate.
Summertime safety tips in and around the water are mostly the same as any other season, but dehydration is definitely a greater concern this time of year. Watch yourself for the signs of dehydration, monitor children closely, and take frequent water breaks – you know, the kind where you leave the water to go get cool, refreshing drink!
Stay safe and have fun!