Parents campaign for special swimming classes
‘POSITIVE talks’ are under way between Lochaber Autism Support Group and the Lochaber Leisure Centre to discuss potential additional support needs (ASN) swimming classes for children in the area.
Amie-Louise Wallace, who set up the Lochaber Autism Support Group two years ago, has been canvassing parents in Lochaber who have children with ASN to assess the need of tailored swimming classes.
Amie-Louise told The Oban Times: ‘A a lot of additional needs children cannot attend the normal lessons and there is not an alternative offered by High Life Highland unless you can afford one to one lessons outwith your membership.’
A number of parents contacted Amie-Louise to express their interest in ASN swimming classes and a few have been speaking to The Oban Times.
Mum Katherine Douglass said her children would benefit from ASN swimming classes. She said: ‘My two children have a chromosome disorder 22q11 duplication and with this they have additional needs. My son Mark Douglass has a learning disability, development delay, hypermobility syndrome and severe anxiety. My youngest Anna O’Donnell has hypermobility syndrome, problems with her bowel and speech delay.
‘I also have a five-year- old daughter who has anxiety and is waiting to be tested for the same disorder. My children don’t socialise well, so ASN swimming lessons would be fantastic for them.’ Eilidh Dunleavy also contacted The Oban Times to say her son cannot attend mainstream swimming lessons due to his learning difficulties.
She said: ‘I am very keen to see something put in place for children such as Lewis and hopefully, with enough interest, this can be something that’s looked into.’
Nikki Jasiczak said there is ‘ very little to no activities for children with additional needs yet they are the children that most require them’.
While Nikki’s eldest son does attend swimming lessons, she said that he struggles with concentration and listening to instructions. She said: ‘The swimming lessons are completely full and Reuben could do with a smaller setting and a little more understanding from the instructors.
‘My younger one, however, has no self- control and cannot function as well in normal sessions so will need these smaller classes tailored to children with extra needs.’
Amie-Louise added: ‘The talks are positive and I am hoping by the end there may be a class available that is tailored more for ASN children.’
A High Life Highland spokesperson said: ‘ We are working with the Lochaber Autism Support Group to identify the requirements for, and then deliver, swimming lessons to children with additional support needs.’