Swimming Toward a Brighter Future: How I Was Introduced to the World of Autism

November 19, 2014 9:09 PM

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Swimming Toward a Brighter Future: How I Was Introduced to the World of Autism

Have you ever wondered how you got to a certain point in your life and what event, idea, or person may have led you down the path you now follow? My introduction into the world of autism was entirely unexpected and unplanned. In 1995, I received a phone call from a parent who was interested in enrolling her seven-year-old daughter, Amanda, in swim lessons. Janis, Amanda's mother, explained that she was interested in only private instruction; the typical swim class, she told me, would not suit Amanda. She explained that the likelihood of Amanda actually learning proper swimming technique was not a concern. She simply wanted to pay me to play with Amanda in the pool because Amanda loved the water -- it seemed to make her happy and calm. Janis asked me if I knew anything about autism and if I had any experience teaching children with autism. I assured her that I had taught children with many different special needs, and I was willing to explore the world of autism.

At the time, I had been teaching swimming for 20 years. I started teaching swimming at the age of 12, as a volunteer at Children's Hospital in San Diego. I also volunteered for the Easter Seals Swim Program, where I taught children with various disabilities such as Down syndrome, blindness, deafness...

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