What Parents Should Know!

What Parents Should Know!

According to CARD Florida report (Centre for Autism and Order Related Disabilities), Children on the Autism Spectrum appear to be drawn to water which places them at an increased risk for unintentional death and disability due to drowning. Unlike in typically developing children, this risk persists regardless of age. Experts have not explained why this is so, but parents, caregivers and professionals are warned to be extremely vigilant around any body of water and to proactively minimize certain risk factors for drowning when possible. Drowning can start to occur in as little as 20 seconds and in less than 3 inches of water.


Provide swimming rules and directions in a format that the individual with ASD can easily understand.

  • Pictures; simple, concrete wording; and stories are some of the ways this could be accomplished
  • Provide water safety barriers
  • Lock doors and install pool screens and gates.
  • Install “isolation fencing” around pools. This can reduce a child’s mortality risk for drowning by 83%4
  • Install pool and door alarms.
  • Use life jackets that are a good fit for the individual with ASD given their height and weight. Inflatable arm floaties, pool noodles, etc. cannot be substituted for a life jacket.

Adult Supervision Using The 3C’s.

  • Close and constant supervision. Children should NEVER be allowed to swim unsupervised Make sure that each child has a designated adult to watch them
  • Cut out distractions. Avoid engaging in activities such as talking to others, reading, using phone, or eating while supervising.
  • CPR Certification (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation). About 70% of drowning victims do not receive immediate CPR. Starting CPR or having knowledge of it, can significantly improve a victim’s chance of surviving a drowning incident.

We can never be too careful around pools and other bodies of water so get informed on water safety and enjoy the warm summer months with your loved ones.