[blindkid] Learning to swim

DrV icdx at earthlink.net
Sat Jun 16 15:32:03 UTC 2012

Hi Devin,

I'll add to what Carol shared. We faced this as well with both are sons.
Some kids need to physically be motored through the motions with LOTS of
repetition to master the concept & needed develop the muscle motor memory.
 What to many may seem simple motion may need to be broken down into
smaller component motions with lots of repetition. Once they get it, they
may need periodic reminders or refreshers.
In the water using 1 or 2 kick boards or a smaller Boogie Board to
stabilize his trunk will allow him to focus more on the arm motions. It
may be helpful to have more than 1 adult work with him to get the concept;
1 to focus on stabilizing the trunk to remove that as a distractor (that
could be the parent) while the instructor works on arm motion.
Using "dry runs" on land can also be useful - this is done even for
beginnign sighted folks of all ages when teaching surfing. A bench (not
attached to a picnic table) of appropriate width is nice. He could lay on
the bench (kind of like a surfboard) with his head at or just over the
front edge. This provides a stable body platform & then the arms are free
on the side & in front to get the right motions.
Adding resistance as Carol mention may also provide additional
Instructors need to think outside the box. Talking with an Occupational or
Physical Therapist may also be useful.
As with anything else in life, some instructors are better than others.
You may need to shop around a bit. None of the swim instructors my kids
have had had previously worked with a blind child.
Definitely stick with it. I firmly believe that very child, blind or
sighted, should be taught swimming basics--at least to tread water and a
basic stroke at a minimum--so that they are at least comfortable, in the
water. Water experiences are so much fun - watermarks, the beach,
canoeing, kayaking, surfing, paddle-boarding etc.  Around here at the
middle & high school a few weeks of gym class are spent in the pool.
Comfort in the water is a social & safety issue.
Best wishes,

On 6/16/12 7:17 AM, "Carol Castellano" <carol_castellano at verizon.net>

>Hi Devin,
>My daughter had difficulty with this as well.  I assume you mean the
>circular movement with his arms, right?  For our daughter, we had to
>start with the components of the movement--teaching her the feeling
>of stretching her arms out straight--in any direction.  I think she
>had to learn this feeling in her shoulders.  So we practiced that a
>lot--arms straight up (like raising your hand), arms out to the side,
>arms forward, etc.
>We found adding resistance with one of those elastic physical therapy
>bands was helpful for developing a consciousness of the various
>muscle groups and sensations.
>Hope this helps.
>Carol Castellano
>President, Parents of Blind Children-NJ
>Director of Programs
>National Organization of Parents of Blind Children
>carol_castellano at verizon.net
>At 07:16 AM 6/16/2012, you wrote:
>>Hello everyone, I was hoping some of you might have some ideas on how to
>>teach swimming. My son was born blind and has some cognitive issues due
>>to seizures when he was very young. We are having one heck of a time
>>getting him to understand the circular motion concept. Any ideas would be
>>appreciated, we have taken him to swim class but they didn't know how to
>>help him either.
>>Thank you,
>>Devin Bewley
>>Cherry Creek Properties LLC.
>>blindkid mailing list
>>blindkid at nfbnet.org
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