Helpful Information

Autism and Water Safety

Australia is a water-loving nation and being around water, whether it is a beach, a river or a backyard pool, is part of most kids’ lives.

Water safety means learning how to swim, as well as learning about water and how it can be dangerous.

It is really important for all kids to learn water safety, but it’s especially important for kids and teens living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This is because kids with ASD:

  • Might not understand the dangers of being in, or near, water
  • Might not like being in water so they don’t get the chance to learn water safety and how to swim OR
  • They might really like water, and go wandering to find it.

If you’re a parent of a child or teen living with ASD you might need to be extra vigilant around water to make sure your child is safe.

There are some things you can do, especially when your child is young, to teach them about the dangers of water, and how to be safe around it.

Create rules about how to stay safe around water and practise them with your child, for example:

  • Walk slowly near water
  • Wait for an adult before getting in the pool.

If you’re child struggles with communication, use visual aids like story books and pictures, to teach them rules about water safety.

Enrol your child in a swim program

If learning a new skill is especially hard for your child, or public pools are just too noisy or busy for them to handle, you can enrol them in an individual aquatic therapy program. We can work one-on-one with your child to help them develop basic water skills, or give them the tools they need to transition to group swimming classes.

Once your child is enrolled in an individual or group class, help them practise their skills between sessions – this could be as simple as blowing bubbles in the bath!


What does Novita offer?

We’re passionate about water safety – our aquatic therapy program includes a range of options for kids and teens of all ages living with ASD. We have classes throughout metropolitan and regional South Australia. These are some of our classes:


Tadpoles is a fun, interactive aquatic therapy group for kids up to the age of four. We work with kids and parents to learn about water safety and strategies, for example, how to safely get into a pool.

Octopus is for kids living with ASD who would benefit from individual, step-by-step lessons about water safety. We do activities like:

Learning what is a safe depth

Learning about the water environment they’re in, for example using pool rails to stay safe

Learning safety rules, like not jumping in a pool area

Use visual symbols and social stories

Learning to be independent in water.

Dolphins is for kids who are getting ready to learn to swim, and preparing for community swimming programs. We will give your child an introduction to different swimming strokes, and help them learn:

  • how to be a happy participant in a group of kids
  • how to follow instructions
  • how to take turns
  • social skills.

ConnectABILITY connects your child with a swimming program that suits them best, if your local neighbourhood swimming programs aren’t suitable.