Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Victorian Government is proud to partner with Autism Swim, Yarra, Monash and Glen Eira City Councils to present a community information session focused on wandering, water safety and aquatics for people with autism spectrum disorder and related conditions (autism). This information session will be beneficial to parents of children, young people and adults with autism, as well as aquatic industry professionals and community members.

Wandering can be a concern held by parents and professionals participating and working in sport and active recreation. Many of our footy fields, waterways, walking trails and camping spaces, while beautiful, can be a place of increased risk for people who may wander off from safe spaces. While the focus will be on aquatics the information provided can be applied to a variety of sport and active recreation environments.

What we know

  • Aquatic based sport and recreation enhances well-being and quality of life
  • Nearly half of children with autism have wandered away from safe places, sometimes into dangerous situations
  • Children with autism are 160 times more likely to drown than their typically developing peers

Many Victorians enjoy aquatic based activities and this is a significant part of our culture. While water is attractive to many and can even have therapeutic values, it also has an inherent danger that needs to be considered responsibly. Balancing duty of care and dignity of risk can be challenging. This information session will be an informative way to consider these important factors as well as other strategies.

Erika Gleeson, Founder of Autism Swim

Erika Gleeson (GC. Autism Studies. BA. Behavioural Science and Communications) is the Founder and Clinical Director of Autism Swim (www.autismswim.com.au).

Autism Swim is the only certification body in the world specific to autism and aquatics, and is now operating across 11 countries.  

Erika is also a Senior Behaviour Specialist for those with other autism and other abilities, having worked for over a decade supporting those who have complex behavioural challenges.
Autism Swim for the Community: Autism, Wandering and Water Safety Event

Erika is a nominee for Young Australian of the Year and Pride of Australia Awards. Erika is a noted speaker at international conferences, and is regarded as Australia's leading expert on wandering and drowning prevention for those who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and neurodevelopmental disorders.

Roslyn Laurie, Swim Instructor and parent

Roslyn Laurie was the 2015 National and Victorian recipient of the AUSTSWIM Access and Inclusion Swim Teacher of the Year Award. Roslyn has been a swim teacher for 5 years and has completed the AUSTSWIM teacher of Swimming and Water Safety, Infant and Preschool and Access and Inclusion. Roslyn has recently become Autism Swim certified and is excited to share her knowledge in the pool. 

Roslyn will present to the group her experiences as both a swim teacher and as parent and the role and impact swimming and aquatics have had for her family. Roslyn will share her personal experiences as a parent of three beautiful children. Roslyn was in part motivated to become a swim instructor because of her children, two of whom are diagnosed with autism and one who has developmental challenges due to oncology treatment in the first five years of his life. 

Roslyn’s personal and professional experience, in and out of the pool is sure to be of interest to families and aquatic professionals alike.  

Questions and comments
Shawn Stevenson, Sport and Recreation Victoria
03 9096 9871
Shawn.Stevenson@sport.vic.gov.au

About the Wandering and Water Safety Tool Kit

This toolkit is 73 pages of vital information for any parent whose child has a propensity to wander, has decreased ability to perceive risks/dangers and/or who is not a strong swimmer.

The toolkit is broken down into three sections: Education, Prevention, and Response. Some of the resources include a Wandering Action Plan, information on tracking technology, caregiver checklist, identification tags to be worn on shoes, strategies to prevent your child from becoming over-stimulated, ABA-based programs to teach your child not to leave home without the appropriate cue to do so, and CPR considerations (to name just a few). 

Videos: 
Autism Swim for the Community: Autism, Wandering and Water Safety Event Live Stream