Vera School has two swimming pools on the school’s premises, a small shallow paddling pool for younger learners and a bigger deeper pool for older learners.
Children need to be taught how to be safe around bodies of water such as swimming pools, dams, rivers and the sea. Water safety means learning how to stay afloat, follow rules in or around the water, as well as learning about water and how it can be dangerous. At Vera, we do not teach swimming (i.e. strokes), but as part of our curriculum we teach water safety by using the pools as part of the weekly programme during summer and spring.
It is especially important for children with ASD to learn about water safety because:
- they might not understand the dangers of being in, or near, water
- they might not like being in water, so they do not get the chance to learn water safety and how to swim
- they might really like water, and wish to swim without being aware of its potential
In addition to water safety, exposure to the swimming pools allows for multi-sensory input (movement, visual stimulation, tactile input etc.), and can have a modulating effect on learners with sensory processing difficulties. Physical exercise is also an integral part of the programme at Vera, and swimming is one of the ways in which this can be incorporated.
In 2003, the National Lottery funded the establishment of the Sensory room and the Jacuzzi as a donation to Vera School. As with the swimming pool, the Jacuzzi allows for multi-sensory input and can have a modulating effect on learners with sensory processing difficulties. It addition to this, it provides the opportunity for certain self-help skills to be taught during preparation to use and after use of the Jacuzzi such as showering, washing and drying hair, hanging up and folding of towels, dressing etc.