Adaptive Aquatics

Special Needs Swim Lessons

Adaptive Aquatic Program          

We at Harrison Swim School believe that teaching individuals with special needs to swim is not only a good idea, it’s essential!

  • Drowning is the number one leading cause of death of children and adults with autism
  • It only takes 2 inches of water and the time to answer the phone for a child to drown
  • 9 out of 10 deaths occur while a caregiver is present
  • Our Experienced Instructors cater to many needs                     
  • Autism, Asperger’s or related syndromes
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Down Syndrome
  • Sensory Integration Disorder and Sensory Challenges
  • Physical Difficulties
  • Any various others

Autistic Children Should Learn to Swim

Water holds a special appeal for many children on the autism spectrum. In fact, 91% of all wandering deaths for autistic children ages 14 and younger are because of drowning.

What Makes Us Unique?

  • We teach to the student’s abilities, not disabilities. Our focus is to create trust between instructor and student.
  • Using clear, direct instructions and individualized attention we teach with respect.
  • When teaching we focus on repetitive skill practice. Consistency is key.
  • We introduce change slowly allowing “time” for each swimmer to adapt and explore.
  • We emphasize the basic water skills (breathing, maneuvering underwater and floatation).
  • We celebrate all triumphs and we always have FUN!

Benefits of swimming lessons for individuals with special needs

  • Saves LIVES! We teach safety awareness and fundamental skills needed to survive in a water environment.
  • Physical Benefits
    • Greater muscle strength, flexibility, range of motion, and improvement in coordination
    • Physical endurance, better breath control and increased lung capacity
  • Emotional Benefits
    • Lessons can help build confidence and build self-esteem
    • Lessons can also build self-control. We have seen improved behavior as an outcome in our students.

What parents need to know                                                                                     

  • Your biggest battle may be showing up for a lesson that your child does not want. Stay strong, set the mark and stick to your gut. It is normal for children to challenge authority and test their boundaries, but the parent must have the final say.
  • Stay with your child during the swim lesson. The parent is our accountability.
  • Give your child time to adjust. Consistency is key. Is your instructor bonding with your child?
  • Your child should not be forced to put their face in the water until they are ready.
  • When lessons are enjoyable the children learn quicker and lessons will be fun!
  • Open communication is encouraged. Parents are the cheerleaders and teachers need to be allowed to teach. Everyone works together as a team for the child.

Adapted Aquatic Lessons

  • Every adaptive instructor is a certified swim instructor with a certification for teaching aquatic special needs.
  • All Instructors are certified in First Aid/CPR/AED.
  • Private lessons are eight 30-minute classes
  • Cost for the private lessons range from $250-$350 for eight 30-minute classes.

How to register for the Adaptive Aquatic Program

  1. Please go to and register your adaptive aquatic student online. Fill out the registration form, the Adaptive Aquatic Questionnaire, and waiver form. You will be asked to pay a deposit online.
  2. Please indicate on the Registration Form if you want a specific instructor.
  3. You will receive a phone call or email from the director of the program. She will book your lessons with you.
  4. The balance of your payment can be paid on the first day of lessons. Please make check payable to the DreamPlex.
  5. Limited scholarships are available to families with hardship cases.

Aquatic Swim Lesson Policies

  1. Please arrive to your class on time. Have swimmers ready in bathing suits and googles. NO TINTED GOGGLES, please!
  2. We encourage parents to be active participants in their child’s learning process, but we also ask for you to keep your presence during the swim lessons to a minimum. Swim lessons are a perfect time for your child to explore their independence and confidence in a safe environment. There are certain instances where your presence can detract from your child’s ability to learn. If the instructor needs your assistance, he/she will motion for your help.
  3. Make-up classes are only held for classes canceled by the swim school. We do not offer make-up classes for classes you have missed.
  4. If you decide to withdraw from class for any reason, you may do so before the 3rd class of the cycle. Refunds are only issued if Harrison Swim School has cancelled the class or for a valid medical reason documented in writing by a doctor.
  5. We value your comments. We are committed to providing a quality program. If you have a question or concern, please consult Ginny Harrison at