How to Help your Child with Autism Learn to Swim

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There are two main techniques that can be used to help keep your child’s anxiety down and increase their ability to thrive and survive in the water.

Keep the Same Routine

I know it sounds simple but having the same routine for every swimming lesson week in and week out will help children on the spectrum become aware of what is expected from them and when it is coming.  This will intern reduce their anxiety and stress levels.

Use Visual Cues

Making a story board with pictures is a great way to help children on the spectrum understand what they need to do within their structured swimming lesson and keep their attention with the task at hand. This story board of pictures can contain every item that will be used within the lesson as well as pictures demonstrating a swimming technique like blowing bubbles or kicking legs in the water. See the examples below.

Deano’s Nemos one on one private swimming lessons are taught in your own backyard pool. Being in a familiar environment promotes calmer, more relaxed behaviour from your child. This along with the two techniques mentioned above, will help accelerate you child’s ability to learn to swim whilst also building muscle strength and coordination!

Benefits of Private Swimming Lessons

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Comfortable Swimming Lesson Environment

Your money will not be wasted on the first few lessons because your child is scared in an unfamiliar environment and, as a result, unwilling to participate fully. Deano’s Nemos private swimming lessons are taught in your own backyard pool. Being in a familiar environment promotes calmer, more relaxed behaviour from your child. They will associate water with fun rather than being stressed and upset.

Facilitates the Learning Process

Your child’s progress will be much quicker. They will receive totally focused attention with one on one private lessons. This allows your child to form a closer bond with their swim instructor and learn the swim skills in a more efficient manner.

Convenience for You

Your time is valuable! There is no time wasted traveling to a swim school that has a limited number of time slots available for your child. We are flexible and fit in with your schedule and you are able to stay in the comfort of your own home while your child’s swimming lessons are underway.

Safe and Stress-free

Having Deano’s Nemos private swimming lessons in your own backyard gives you peace of mind knowing your child will be taught the skills necessary to survive in your own pool. This means that they will be familiar with the layout of your pool and will be taught the skills necessary to get to safety and to survive if they are ever in an emergency situation!

The 3 Big Reasons Why You Should Not Use Floaties On Your Child

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You may have bought your child ‘floaties’ for their arms and back to make them feel more comfortable in the water and to put your mind at rest knowing that they will be safe. However I am about to share with you the 3 big reasons why floaties are actually stunting your child’s ability to be able to thrive and survive in the water.

1. Floaties can give your child a false sense of security. If they ever end up in the water by accident, chances are they will not be wearing any floatation aids and will find themselves in trouble. Learning to swim to their abilities (without floaties) means that if they ever end up in a body of water outside of structured swimming lessons, they will have the best chance of survival!

2. Arm floats or ‘water wings’ keep your child in a vertical position. You may think this is a good thing because it keeps their head out of the water and allows them to see more clearly, however it also brings about a ‘bicycle kick’ under the water. This bad habit can take years of structured swimming lessons to overcome and will stunt your child’s ability to learn to swim as they will not be able to gain the power from their kicks necessary to be able to come up for a breath.

3. Floaties can also make you too comfortable while your child is in water. You may feel that the floaties are keeping them safe and that you do not need to be actively watching them. I hope you do not think this is the case. Floatation aids should only be used as an extra precaution when there are multiple children under your supervision or you are unable to be in the water with your child.

I hope this post will help you make the right call when it comes to ‘floaties’ on your next trip to the pool or beach.

If you want to find out how to fast-track your child’s swimming and survival skills, give me a call on 0478001225 or email me at

Dry Drowning – What Every Parent Needs to Know

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Most parents retire from lifeguard duty when their little ones hop out of the pool or make their way from the surf. Once they’re all dried off, it’s time for a snack and maybe a play in the sand. Right? Hopefully in most cases. But, dry drowning or secondary drowning, can occur up to 24 hours after your child has been for a swim.

Defining Dry Drowning

With dry drowning, water never reaches the lungs. Instead, breathing in water causes your child’s vocal cords to spasm and close up. This shuts off their airways, making it hard for them to breathe.

Defining Secondary Drowning

Secondary drowning occurs if water gets into the lungs. There, it can irritate the lining of the lungs and fluid can build up, causing a condition called pulmonary enema.

Warning Signs

There are a number of symptoms that you would notice almost instantly.

  • Consistent Coughing
  • Chest pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Feeling extremely tired

Your child may also have changes in behavior such as such as irritability or lack in concentration which could mean the brain isn’t getting enough oxygen.

What to do

If your child has any breathing problems after getting out of the water, get medical help. Although in most cases the symptoms will go away on their own, it’s important to get then checked out.

Any problems that do develop are usually treatable if you get medical care. Your job is to keep a close eye on your child for the first 24 hours after their incident in the water.

If the symptoms don’t go away, or if they get worse, take your child to the emergency room. And remember, just because your child is out of the water does not mean they are out of danger.

Easily Teach Your Child How to Hold Their Breath in the Water

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With the use of the verbal cue you can successful help your baby have the best chance possible to survive in the water!

As mentioned in my previous post, infants are born with the natural ability to hold their breath underwater for a short period of time and are very comfortable in a watery environment. After they reach 6 months old however, this reflex slowly fades away if you are not proactive in sustaining it!

Luckily for you it can be done easily through a simple stimulus response that is listed below.

  1. Take half a cup of water, preferably in a brightly coloured cup to add visual stimulation.
  2. Gain your child’s attention using the cup as a visual cue.
  3. Using the key words ‘Child’s Name, Ready, Go!’ pour the cup of water evenly and consistently across the child’s head. This Cue, ‘Name, Ready, Go! is extremely important in the conditioning process. The phrase is a trigger which tells the child to prepare to hold their breath.
  4. Congratulate and provide positive reinforcement to your baby. This will increase the child’s enthusiasm, confidence and relaxation towards this process, and with being in the water.

Once your child is comfortable with having a small amount of water poured over their face, you can increase the amount of water in the cup. This will improve the breath-holding capacity of your baby.

And of course, your baby must be supervised at all times throughout this water-conditioning activity.

When to stop

If your child is crying, distressed or has ingested water you should stop the conditioning process and remove them from the bath.

You can use lots of positive reinforcement if your baby is upset or has accidentally ingested water. Also, you can use vibrant toys or give them a new activity to do to provide an effective distraction.

How to Familiarise Your Baby with Water in the Bath and Prepare Them for Swimming Lessons

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As mentioned in a previous post, infants are born with the ability to hold their breath for a short period of time and are very comfortable in a watery environment.

However, they can start to develop a sense of uncertainty or fear of the water from as early as 6 months old. This is why it is crucial to maintain your baby’s water familiarisation.

In this post I will talk about the three positions in which you can place your baby to allow them to experience different sensations while in the water.

First position

In the first position, parents lower themselves into the water, lying on their back. Baby is then placed stomach down on their parent’s chest/stomach in a way that allows them to snuggle and feel close contact with their parent.

The parent then gently pours water from a cup over baby’s back and legs (which, for safety reasons, remain out of the water and on top of their parent’s torso) allowing the baby to feel the warm stimulation of the water running over their skin.

Second position

Once the baby has been introduced to the water in this way, the parent may sit up and cradle their baby in front of them (between their legs).

Supporting the baby with one hand behind their neck/head and the other behind their lower back area, the parent then gradually lowers their baby into the water so that the back of baby’s head and ears are submerged, with their face remaining clear of the water. The back of their head must be supported at all times by the parent. This cradle position allows for face-to-face contact between parent and child.

Once comfortable in this position, the parent may remove their supporting hand at the base of the baby’s spine to allow the baby a greater degree of independence and increased freedom to experience the buoyancy of the water.

Third position

The third position involves the baby being held tummy down in the water with the parent seated. Baby must be constantly supported to keep the mouth and nose clear of the water.

In this position, the parent’s hands are held under baby’s armpit with thumbs pointed skywards. The palms of the hands are rotated upwards to allow the wrists to come together to support baby’s chin and to allow the baby to rest their head on the hands of the parent.

Baby lies in a horizontal position to the water, with their head kept up (supported by Mum or Dad’s hands) and their backside close to the surface of the water. Babies love this prone position because it gives them freedom to move and extend their legs in a motion that is otherwise not possible on land. It also allows the parent freedom to swish baby from side-to-side and back-and-forth. And it even allows baby to push off the end of the bath, which can strengthen the legs of the baby and give them an added sense of security.

Once the child is comfortable in the water in these positions, you can start teaching them breath control via stimulus response which I will talk about in my next post.

Watch Me Not Your Phone

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Mobile phones are well and truly integrated in most modern families lives.

We often wake up and roll over to check our phones first thing in the morning and they are the last thing we look at before going to sleep.

They are just a part of who we are.

Unfortunately mobile devices are also distracting us from some of the most important things in life such as our children’s achievements!

In a learn to swim environment, not only can you see your child achieve goals and grow into a well mannered child who is able to follow instructions, but you are also there to look out for them in such a harsh and unforgiving environment. Learning the skills necessary to survive and thrive in the water always has its risks. The Swim Instructor is there to protect your child but we are all human and a lapse in concentration can happen…

This is why it is so important to make sure you are watching your child when they are learning to swim in case they ever need your help, and to support and encourage them when they achieve even the smallest of goals.

Your child needs you…

Be there for them when they need you most…


“Every child has the right to learn to swim” says Prince William

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prince-willam-and-family“Every child has the right to learn to swim”

It’s fantastic to see that there is an organisation out there with the goal of making sure every child across the U.K has the opportunity to learn to swim.

Hopefully there is support in place for Australia so that we can make our learn to swim programmes part of every school curriculum nation wide!

Watch the video below:


Infants Natural Reflex – The Essential Skill that You can Teach Them Yourself!

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From when your child is born up until around six months of age, they have a natural reflex to hold their breath while underwater. This fantastic skill will slowly fade if you are not getting your child to use it as often as possible. This is why you should be submerging your child as soon as they are able to support their own head and are able to roll onto their tummies.

When submerging your child always lead with a familiar saying e.g. “Your child’s name, ready, go!” or, “your child’s name, 1, 2, 3, go!” Making sure you have their attention before completing the phrase. This will set them up and they will learn that phrase, making them aware of what is about to happen.

3 Quick Tips to help your Child with Submerging

1. When it comes time to take them under water start with your arms out straight, submerge them leading with their face so they can see whats coming, and bring them nice and slowly towards your chest in a gradual arc.
2. Do not start submerging your child by just ‘dunking’ them quickly under the water and back up. This will be a shock for them and they are more likely to swallow the water because they will not have any idea what just happened to them.
3. After they are comfortable underwater you can do other variations that you will see in this video link that I am going to share with you below!

Learn to Swim – Mandatory part of the new Victorian School Curriculum

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While watching The Project on channel ten this afternoon, I saw a very interesting segment about the recent approval by the Andrews Government. Swimming lessons will be a MANDATORY part of the school curriculum for all schools in Victoria.

According to the Canberra Times, every child has to be able to swim a minimum of 50 metres by the time they finish grade 6.  The Education Minister James Merlino said “Many schools deliver an intensive swimming program, many schools have a swimming carnival that may be a day a year, but a number of schools do precious little when it comes to swim survival and learning how to swim.”

I believe this is a great first step and that swimming lessons should be mandatory across all states in Australia, not just Victoria. However the government needs to make sure there is adequate funding available for the schools so that other parts of the curriculum don’t suffer as a result.

#theprojecttv #thecanberratimes #learntoswim