Autism Delaware is collaborating with the YMCA of Delaware to offer a water safety program to children and adults with autism spectrum disorder.

Called SWAM, the program is based on the Swimming With Autism curriculum developed by the Autism Society of San Diego.

Autism Delaware is providing the training to the YMCAs at no cost and in exchange, the YMCA will provide at least two SWAM sessions in 2019. The program is underway at the Brandywine Y, and the downtown Wilmington and Sussex Ys will launch the program this summer.

People with autism tend to wander or bolt — known as eloping — and face a risk if they come near water. Drowning accounts for about 90% of deaths associated with wandering by children with ASD younger than 14, according to the National Autism Association.

During their training, the Y aquatics staff are able to work directly with children on the spectrum. Autism Delaware has contacted several of the parents they serve and invited them and their children to participate. Parents are present during the one-day session so that they can observe any issues their children face when they go into the water.

Parents and caregivers who would like to enroll a loved one in a SWAM program should directly contact the aquatics department at their local YMCA.

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