“My son’s name is Bryce, he is three years old and has been diagnosed with mild autism. His symptoms typically manifest with high, unpredictable anxiety, and he doesn’t use or understand words very “typically.” Bryce has always had a high fear of water. This time last year, he was refusing baths, pouring water on his head was torture, and even pulling into the parking lot of a pool/splash pad meant tantrums in the car seat. If we made it outside, he usually had a death grip on me and cried the entire time. I decided to try some swim lessons this summer to see if we could work through some of his fear. Unfortunately, nobody seemed to want to take him. I called the YMCA, Cumming Aquatic Center, some private person I found online (was getting desperate), and the folks that offer swim lessons at our community pool. None of the above even wanted to meet Bryce. When I said he had really high anxiety, described the parking lot tantrums, and that he tends to hit with his head when he’s really upset…. I heard quite a few “we aren’t equipped to help him” or “give us a call if you can get him past some of the anxiety.” I can’t really describe how it feels to have this little person that you love so much, when nobody wants to help or allow him to join in. Bryce’s teacher recommended Kristie Snape and Adaptive Aquatics. I sent an email, not really hoping for much of anything. They immediately set him up for an evaluation. I was so nervous, and of course, some of Bryce’s anxiety made an appearance. Kristie didn’t even bat an eye. She had the picture schedule that he’s familiar with both at his preschool and at home. She had a variety of interesting, fun toys as distractions. She was completely unintimidated, and I had the impression that she thought his fits were just no big deal. He was set up for three times weekly, the very next week. Bryce’s anxiety is still present, but I’ve never seen either Kristie or Theresa act like it was any big deal at all. I think of both of them as more of therapists than swim instructors. Besides the obvious, Bryce has to take instruction from someone other than his mom (while he’s pretty scared), and work through the anxiety. He has ample opportunity to build his core strength, which his occupational therapist is always describing as crucial, and he’s able to partake in cause and effect activities. And, our friends don’t even RECOGNIZE Bryce when I post pictures at the pool. He’s floating, swimming, and putting his own face in the water when he’s told. You’d have to know Bryce to know what a big deal that is. Bryce now ASKS to go “see water”, is taking baths, and had a wonderful time on our family vacation to the beach this year. My “cover photo” on Facebook is him racing to the water on the beach, with his arms outstretched and a smile that lights up his face. UNREAL. I am amazed at each session. There is NO OTHER person that offers what Adaptive Aquatics does. Believe me, I’ve called and asked extensively; I even asked at the autism institute where my son has sessions each week. If Kristie wasn’t available, we would still have a little boy terrified of water of all sources. The thing is, that isn’t just a recreational activity. Turn on the news or check social media: fear and inexperience leads to unsafe circumstances and even death. We will be clients of Adaptive Aquatics for many years, and I would not hesitate to recommend them to anybody, friend or stranger.” -Jamie Nedderman
“Our daughter Lindsay is 16 years old and was diagnosed with autism at age 3. She suffers from severe anxiety and has significant learning and developmental disabilities, including speech/language impairment, poor motor skills and very poor motor planning. For most of her life, Lindsay has worn a life jacket any time she has been in a pool, not only for safety reasons, but because she was very attached to the life jacket and even psychologically dependent on it. We had wanted for many years to enroll Lindsay in swimming lessons in hopes that she would learn to swim without it, but struggled to find an instructor with experience in teaching children with autism, which we felt was absolutely crucial if Lindsay was to have any chance at success. We needed a teacher who would teach her one-on-one and not be easily frustrated or intimidated. We wanted someone who would understand all of the autism-related challenges Lindsay faces and who would know how best to help her overcome them. At Adaptive Aquatics, that is exactly what we found.
Lindsay began swimming lessons with Kristie and Theresa at the beginning of this summer (2014). To say she was reluctant to cooperate at first would certainly be an understatement. But her teachers were incredibly patient and persistent. They would not let her give up. Within a week, Lindsay had willingly abandoned the life jacket. Two weeks after that, I couldn’t believe my eyes as I watched her swim independently across the deep end of the pool. She hasn’t quite mastered a conventional swimming stroke yet, but as far as I’m concerned, what she can do in the pool now is amazing. Her self-confidence in the water is growing all the time. We couldn’t be more thrilled with her progress and can’t wait to see what more she will accomplish as time goes on! -Jill Ward”
“As most parents, we seek to give our children the best opportunities available to succeed. And when a talent or special interest evolves in our children we want to nurture it, help our children grow in it. This is no different for a parent of a special needs child. We want to nurture and encourage our children to reach their best potential.
There is a CONSIDERABLE difference in means available in which to nurture the talents our children possess. Sure we have our therapies, but what about our children’s talents and special interest?? Many special needs children learn differently than “typical” children. They need a suitable environment perhaps to reduce distraction or require individual coaching as opposed to a group setting. Sometimes a more “hands on” approach is appropriate, in which a child needs someone to actually put their body in the motion in which you’re trying to teach. There are many variations to a special needs child style of learning. But the bottom line is, THEY LEARN, THEY COMPREHEND, THEY UNDERSTAND, when their learning style is taught to them. And there are few, very few, places that offer this type of instruction, especially for swimming.
My son, Tristan, is 9. He started showing an interest and talent in swimming around 5. I’ve been looking for about 4 years, trying to find a group to teach him swimming technique and safety. I’ve tried the local park and rec, but the group setting was completely unsuitable for Tristan’s learning style. He was completely distracted, couldn’t follow directions and just ended up doing his own thing. At one lesson, he left his group and jumped into the deep end. I tried hiring a private instructor, but could only find someone who was a special needs teacher who was willing to “try her best and do what she could.” Although I was thankful for her efforts, she was not a swim instructor.
When I heard of Adaptive Aquatics I jumped on the phone and website, wanting to contact Ms. Kristie ASAP!! She was completely encouraging and supportive of what I had gone through, trying to find a suitable swim coach for my Tristan. Tristan started out just 1 day week. The progress he made within just a few lessons was incredible. Ms. Kristie had already taught him some proper strokes and was learning how to control his breathing with each stroke. Then we were fortunate enough to get up to 3 lessons a week. I am so excited for Tristan to have Ms. Kristie in his life. –Jody Rettig”
“I wanted to let you know the difference Adaptive Aquatics of Georgia had made in the life of my family. Learning to swim has taken a major safety concern I had for my son Adam (5 year old with Autism). I was truly terrified to take my children to the pool, lake, or anywhere near water because Adam likes to run and loves to go to the water. I also have a 3 year old typical daughter and she was also missing out on these opportunities because of my fear. I wish my fear was like many typical Mom’s and irrational, but with the staggering statistics of drowning in children with Autism my fear was very valid. After only 10 weeks my son Adam could swim. I felt confident if something happened and he was to fall into the water he would know exactly what to do to make it safely to dry land. This had allowed me to actually take my children to swim all summer and have fun like typical families. What I wasn’t expecting from our lessons was to feel so much pride in my son. You see we go to hours worth of therapy a week and these lessons were the first time where I felt like my son was learning something he loved. He wasn’t being corrected for his delays, but he was learning to swim just like typical kids. He stared sleeping after 2 years of waking every night. These swimming lessons really did change the lives of everyone in our family. We are so grateful for Ms. Kristie and look forward to taking more lessons in the future to help our son become even a better swimmer. Thanks! Lindsay Melda”
“As a parent of a child with autism and a typical child, it is often difficult to find programs for both children to participate. We relocated to Georgia last year and moved from an area that had a special needs division of its Parks & Recreation. After searching for a while, we are grateful that we discovered Adaptive Aquatics of Georgia. The swim program has taught both children key survival skills and swimming capabilities. My 2 year old can jump in and swim even in 12ft of water! Besides swim skills, the swim class also provides therapeutic relief to my child with autism. The classes are structured well and also help with listening skills. Kristie Snape is an awesome instructor and highly recommended to teach any child! -LaToya Musembi”
“For the last several weeks, our son Sam has been attending the Adaptive Aquatics program. Sam is 15 years old and has autism and is almost completely nonverbal. Without a program like this it would be impossible for us to teach him to swim. When Sam began the program, he would get in the water, but would not accept our direction if we tried to get him to learn the basics of swimming. However, with the calm and steady approach used by Kristie and Theresa, Sam has made great progress. We would recommend Adaptive Aquatics to parents of special needs children. -Paul & Martha Brach”