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Royal Life Saving and Aspect combine to deliver module to teach people on the autism spectrum

Royal Life Saving and Aspect combine to deliver module to teach people on the autism spectrum
September 28, 2022

Royal Life Saving Society Australia, in partnership with Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect), has just released a new online module aimed at improving swim teachers’ knowledge and skills when it comes to swimming lessons for people on the autism spectrum.

With children on the autism spectrum three times more likely to drown than those that are not, the bodies feel this can be addressed through specialised swim teaching and learn to swim programs.

Advising that the course was developed in response to community need, Royal Life Saving's National Manager - Training and Workforce Development, Shaun Jackson explained “we know that many children on the autism spectrum, and their parents or carers, have had a bad experience as they start out on their learn to swim journey – and that this means many have stopped before they really got started.

“We also know that lack of swimming skills contributes to the higher than average drowning rates.

“With this online module we wanted to develop an easily accessible learning resource that will give swim teachers a good understanding of autism, considerations in a learn to swim context, and some simple but specialised strategies and techniques to ensure participants enjoy their lessons and develop those critical swimming and water safety skills.”

The module covers the following topics:

• Understanding what autism is, and what it isn’t
• Identifying the strengths, interests, characteristics and behaviours of people on the spectrum and better understanding how they may think and learn
• Understanding the relationship between autism, water, swimming and drowning prevention
• Preparing lessons or programs tailored to individual participants on the spectrum
• Preparing for and managing behaviours you may experience when teaching swimming to participants on the spectrum
• Utilising a range of strategies and techniques during lesson delivery

Throughout the module there are interviews with children on the spectrum that are learning to swim, their parents or carers and their swim teachers. The interviews complement the information and concepts presented across the various topics. They enable the learner to hear about real stories, experiences and insights from those living the learn to swim journey through the lens of autism.

Along with regular video interviews learners will discover that the module has a very visual focus using footage of swim lessons in action and a range of screen designs, interactions, animations, reflection tools and knowledge checks to maximise engagement and learning. It is designed to give swim teachers that are starting out in this area of specialised teaching, or those with experience looking to test and update their knowledge and skills, the ability to move forward with confidence and clarity and deliver highly effective and enjoyable lessons.
Royal Life Saving worked closely with the Aspect Autism Friendly team to develop this module.

Advising of its significance, Aspect Autistic Consultant, Rebecca Street noted "our team is passionate about creating partnerships with organisations that directly and meaningfully improve outcomes for people on Autism Spectrum. Making small changes to the ways we work and think can have a huge impact on the safety and enjoyment of Autistic people when swimming.

Royal Life Saving went above and beyond in working together with our autistic consultants when developing this module, to ensure the content was both respectful and helpful.” 

These modules add to the suite of Professional Development products for the aquatic industry workforce designed by Royal Life Saving. Other recently developed online learning modules include Conflict Management, Cultural Competence, Communication Skills, Child Safety for Frontline Staff, and Child Safety for Management Staff.

To find out more information about the Swim Teaching for Participants on the Autism Spectrum module, or other professional development offerings, contact Royal Life Saving.

Image shows a class for children on the autism spectrum at Knox Leisureworks. Credit: Belgravia Leisure.

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21st April 2022 - Royal Life Saving launch new online training on child safety for the aquatic industry

31st March 2022 - AUSTSWIM announces Bradley Low as new Chief Executive

25th March 2022 - Royal Life Saving promotes round table event to address drowning prevention measures in North Queensland

7th February 2022 - Latest Royal Life Saving NSW Industry Report shows assessment decline with a call for additional sector focus

13th May 2021 - WeFlex uses regular exercise to improve the length and quality of life for people with disabilities

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