Bring out the shorts, swimsuits and sunscreen because it’s that time of the year again: Summer. Celebrate the sunny season by enrolling your kiddos in swim classes where they will learn life-saving techniques, develop their motor skills and perhaps make new friends along the way. As an added, and very important bonus, these lessons might also help improve your child’s symptoms related to their special needs. Read on for our round up of local swim schools and recreation centers that cater to your child’s needs, from customizable curriculums to teacher-student pairing based on personality matches. Pro tip: most of these classes are offered year-round, so your kids can continue flapping their fins well beyond the summer days.
A typical 40-minute lesson at the Arlington-Mansfield YMCA’s Special Needs Aquatic Program (SNAP) program begins with exercises to get kids ages 5 and up comfortable in the water. The instructors then touch on safety topics and lead fun activities, such as a hula-hoop used as a target that kids swim through, reinforcing the kids’ new-learned skills. Aside with working with you to meet your child’s swim goals, instructors work can work with your therapists as well to help improve their overall goals, such as practicing being verbal. Register in person or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Accessibility: Center provides waterproof wheelchair and pool is equipped with chair lift
Cost: Members: $30 per class or $100 for four; Non members: $40 per class or $140 four
7120 S. Cooper Street, Arlington, 817/419-9629
Aqua-Fit of Plano
Sign your kiddos up for a Froggies lesson at Aqua-Fit of Plano, equipped with an indoor heated salt-water pool. These small classes (each which typically have four students per instructor) are designed for kiddos who may be a bit on the overactive side. In the Froggies 1 lesson, parents are welcome to dive into the pool and provide assistance. Littles ages six months and up will learn back and front strokes, water safety in addition to resistance and balance training on dry land before hitting the pool. There are two more Froggie levels (2 and 3) for advanced swimmers who do not need parental assistance. Varying ages are grouped in each level, depending on a child’s need and skill level––private lessons are also available. Instructors evaluate every student to determine which level your child fits into best. Call to schedule an evaluation and sign up.
When: Froggies 1 and 2 level classes are on Monday evenings; Levels 1-3 are Saturday afternoons.
Cost: Begins at $69.95 per month or $159.90 for an 8-week session for 45-minute classes are offered year-round. Private lessons begin at $45 for 30 minutes. Discounts for siblings are available.
1400 Summit Ave. Suite D2, Plano, 972/578-7946
Aqua-Tots Swim School
Register for group or private lessons at Aqua-Tots Swim School, serving ages 4 months to 12 years old with all special needs ranging from autism, cerebral palsy, to Down syndrome and children who are non verbal. The school’s SNAP program includes an initial evaluation to create goals and create a curriculum tailored to your child’s needs, honing in on water safety. And visual cues such as picture cards are incorporated. Kids will learn how to independently reach for air with techniques such as rolling over to catch their breath, and stroke skills. Call your nearby location to schedule a free evaluation.
Accessibility: Chair lifts at all locations.
When: Everyday; time and dates vary by location
Cost: Pricing varies on location but typically begins at $89 per month
British Swim School
Littles of all ages and special needs, including Autism, Down syndrome, ADHD and Tourette syndrome are welcome to British Swim School’s group and private lessons, with lessons for children with special needs. Classes are held at several locations throughout Dallas-Fort Worth, such as LA Fitness Centers. Their lessons focus on water acclimation, submersion and glides to the wall. Once swimmers become comfortable in the water, they practice blowing bubbles, rolling over on their backs and backstrokes. Instructors will work with you to meet all your goals––they’ve even seen improvements in Tourette syndrome symptoms.
Accessibility: Chair lift at all pool locations except for the Las Colinas MacArthur Hills Senior Living in Las Colinas.
When: Tuesdays–Sundays; dates and times vary by location. Classes offered year round.
Cost: Call for pricing and registration
Multiple locations, 972/364-1818
The Coppell YMCA serves littles ages 4 and up of all special needs, including mental and physical disabilities. In their 30-minute private lessons, swimmers will first gain basic water skills, such as how to float independently, control breath, kick, paddle and jump into the pool. Once they’ve acclimated to the water, kids will learn the four basic swim strokes: backstroke, breastroke, butterfly and freestyle. Additionally, all instructors go through the YMCA certification, which includes instruction on how to cater to children with special needs. Visit the location to fill out a registration form and sign up. Lessons can be purchased in packages of 4, 8, 12 and 16.
Accessibility: Pool equipped with chair lift
When: By appointment
Cost: Begins at $40 for members; $80 for nonmembers for 4 lessons.
146 Town Center Blvd., Coppell, 972/393-5121
Emler Swim School
Choose from group, semi-private and private 30-minute lessons for littles for ages 2 and up of all special needs at Emler. According to the school’s staff, most parents of children with special needs will start their children in private lessons, then transition to group lessons. Instructors will meet with you before lessons begin to determine the best teaching style for your little. Goals range from learning how to swim for the first time, developing stroke techniques or becoming comfortable in the water. For kids with special needs, the school offers class times during slow-traffic hours. And before your kids start splashing away, instructors will chat with you about the best teaching methods for your child.
When: Monday–Saturday; times and dates vary by location. Lessons are offered year round.
Cost: Varies by location. Call for pricing and registration at 817/552-7946. Discounts for private lessons. One-on-one 15-minute evaluation are free.
Flipkick Swim Academy
Flipkick’s one-on-one lessons are customizable and have even been compared to ABA therapy, with a focus on repetition and physical cues for students. The 15-minute lessons (ideal for kiddos with short attention spans) focus on teaching kids how to float independently, control their breathing, rolling on their backs and tummies and floating. Instructors also aim to improve all their students’ overall development, honing in on skills such as coordination, speech, endurance and strength––to name a few. The school’s lessons are for all ages and all special needs, including autism, Asperger’s, Spina bifida and more. Flipkick serves the greater Fort Worth area, with lessons held inside area pools. Register for classes online.
Accessibility: Chair lift at the South Fort Worth location (The Resource Aquatic Center).
When: Monday–Thursday. Classes offered year-round.
Cost: Private lessons begin at $28 per lesson.
Multiple locations, 817/999-6598
Sunsational Swim School
Set your own swim schedule with Sunsational Swim School. The school’s CPR and First Aid certified instructors (who have a minimum of two year’s experience) will come to you, meeting at your home or community pool. Skills littles ages 6 months will practice in one-on-one instruction include safely entering and exiting the pool and breathing and floating techniques. In addition to the one-on-one attention, Sunsational implement visual skill cards to help kids understand the movements their asked to do. SS serves all special needs including autism, Asperger’s, ADHD, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, sensory integration disorder, physical difficulties and more. Thirty, 45 and hour-long classes are available in packages of 6, 12 and 18, with discounts available for the larger purchases. Register online.
When: Customizable schedule. Classes offered year round.
Cost: Varies by location; Generally begins at $56 per lesson for 6 lessons.
Multiple locations, 888/788-2140
SafeSplash Swim School
Customization is also key at SafeSplash Swim School. Before diving into the 30-minute lessons for ages 6 months and up, parents meet with instructors to discuss goals and develop a teaching plan. Children are then paired with instructors based on skill level and personality for one-on-one lessons, learning at their own pace. For example, some parents look for an instructor with lots of patience, while others want instructors who are more bubbly and make lessons fun. All instructors have training and experience in working with children who have special needs. Kids pick up on basic safety skills, blowing bubbles, floating backward and forward, backstrokes and breaststrokes.
Accessibility: Chair lifts at all 11 Dallas-Fort Worth locations.
When: Offered everyday. Lessons are taught at Dallas-Fort Worth area 24 Hour Fitness and LA Fitness centers; time and dates vary by location. Lessons are offered year round.
Cost: Varies by location; Ranges from $72–$88 per month for one class per week.
Tom Muehlenbeck Recreation Center
Your kiddos ages 3 and up of all special needs will develop motor and aquatic skills in the adapted swim lessons (with group and private options) at the TM Center’s 3.5 foot-deep leisure pool, kept at a warm 84 degrees. Inform instructors and staff, a majority of which are current or former special education teachers, of any additional information they may need to best serve your kiddo and meet your goals upon registering for the class. Lessons can be modified depending on your child’s needs, such as lengthening rests between activities or having an instructor provide extra physical support. Classes are grouped by age and are small, typically limited to four students per group. Register online, by phone, or in person.
Accessibility: Pool equipped with chair lift, ramp and stairs.
When: Saturdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays mornings, afternoons and evenings (time of class is divvied up by age group). Classes offered year-round. Pro tip: book your classes as soon as possible––they fill up fast.
Cost: Begins at $49 per group lesson; $40 per private lesson
5801 West Parker Road, Plano, 972/769-4404