Aquatic therapy refers to water-based treatments and exercises of therapeutic intent for the purpose of relaxation, fitness, physical rehabilitation and other benefits. These treatments and exercises are performed while floating, partially submerged, or fully submerged in water. Many aquatic therapy procedures require constant attendance by a trained therapist, and are conducted in a specialised temperature-controlled pool. Aquatic therapy increases the effectiveness of the approaches to autism treatment. It helps with autism symptoms, including motor functions and sensory issues. One of the activities that uses in aquatic therapy is swimming. Therefore, as an added advantage, the child could become a better swimmer who is less at risk near water. Being in the water makes children more comfortable when it is time to learn swim. Water is especially dangerous for children with autism because many have difficulty communicating when they are in danger. Aquatic therapy gives autistic children time to build a crucial skill.
Furthermore, there are other ways aquatic therapy can help ease symptoms of children with autism. For examples:
- Better balance. Aquatic therapy helps strengthen muscles, which enhances balance and develops better range of motion. It makes the water play is fun and individualised, even for children with autism.
- Better communication skills. Being in water does not mean a lot of social interaction, but it can be a safe place to practice small interactions without the pressure to chat.
- Help with sensory issues. Often, children with autism are facing trouble with sensory integration disorders. Water tends to have calming effect, and some therapies include activities designed to help sensory issues.
- Better oral motor skills. Some children with autism struggle with certain motor skills such as sipping through a straw or blowing out candles on a cake. Because aquatic therapy includes activities like blowing bubbles in water or blowing a ball across the water, children develop stronger oral motor skills.
A research carried out by Pan (2011) evaluated the efficiency of a 14-week aquatic program on physical fitness and aquatic skills for children with autism and their siblings without a disability. Results supported that aquatic therapy improves motor skills and physical fitness components for children with autism and even their siblings. Some other studies showed that autistic children who engaged in aquatic therapy improve their limitations like for those struggling with joint issues, their mobility and muscle strength can be improved in water exercise. Also, it does not matter how big or small a child is- the water accommodates all sizes. While for some of the children with short attention spans, aquatic therapy is particularly suitable for them as being in the water tends to help them stay focused. Water eases anxiety and calms feeling of discomfort too.
1. 增强平衡感。 水上运动治疗可以帮助强化肌肉、提升平衡及发展更好的运动范围。即使是自闭症儿童，他们也能感受到水上活动既有趣又个性化。
3. 帮助解决感官问题。 通常，患有自闭症的儿童在感觉统合障碍方面遇到麻烦。水往往具有镇静作用，一些疗法包括旨在帮助感官问题的活动。
4. 更好的口腔运动技能。 一些自闭症儿童在某些运动技能上发展不足，比如啜饮吸管或在蛋糕上吹蜡烛。水上运动治疗包括在水中吹泡泡或在水中吹球等活动，所以儿童会发展出更强的口腔运动技能。
Pan（2011）进行的一项为期14周的研究，评估了自闭症儿童及其无残疾兄弟的体能和水生技能水生计划的效率。研究结果支持水上运动治疗改善自闭症儿童甚至兄弟姐妹的运动技能和身体健康指数。其它一些研究表明，从事水上活动治疗的自闭症儿童可以改善他们的局限性，例如那些有关节问题的人，他们的活动能力和肌肉力量可以在水上运动中得到改善。此外，孩子的身型也影响不大 – 水适合各种规模。对于一些注意力短暂的儿童而言，水上活动治疗也特别适合他们，因为在水中往往有助于他们保持专注。另外，水可以减轻焦虑，缓解不适感。