Finding a swim instructor that is experienced in teaching special needs children can be a challenging task, as they are often few and far between. This can mean that you end up settling for a less experienced swim instructor that may result in your child’s water confidence and skill level going backwards.

In this post, I will talk about the key attributes and training/qualifications that you should be looking for in a swim instructor in order to find one that is best for you and your child.

Swim Instructor – Essential Qualifications

The first step is to make sure that they have the following essential qualifications and requirements under their belt:

  • First Aid and CPR certificates
  • Working With Children Check
  • Austswim or Swim Australia Qualified Swim Instructor

EVERY swim instructor should have these minimum qualifications

Special Needs Swim Instructor – Teaching Experience

Secondly, you should be looking for an instructor that has over 4 years of formal teaching experience and at least 1 year of experience, teaching children with special needs including Autism, Cerebral Palsy and Down syndrome.

Take note that former competitive swimmers with many years of experience is not a suitable substitute for a certified swim instructor with multiple years of formal teaching experience. This is because certified swim instructors are trained in teaching with various learning styles and techniques that can then be individually tailored to suit your child’s skill level which will maximise their learning.

Special Needs Swim Instructor – Expertise and Personality

Instructors who are experienced in teaching children with special needs will:

  • Be calm and patient with your child, allowing them to feel safe and supported.
  • Use direct and clear instructions during lessons to help them understand what to do
  • Be consistent with repetitive skill practice to enhance your child’s progression while maintaining their sense of familiarity. This will mean that your child will not become anxious during a
  • lesson because they will know what to expect.
  • Introduce new concepts slowly and in such a way that your child is excited about giving it a go.
  • Celebrate all achievements to show their support and acknowledge that your child is succeeding at a new activity
  • Allow your child to have free time in the water (that is supervised by them) to try out their new skills and explore their environment.

At Deano’s Nemos we specialise in teaching children that are on the spectrum. All our instructors have furthered their qualifications and are now qualified under the Austswim Access and Inclusion certificate. This means that we have the expert skills in our tool box to help your child survive and thrive in the water!