Wellness Matters Program – Swim Safe: Aquatic Skills Development (ASD) Program

Project Dates

2017 – Present


Drowning is the leading cause of death for individuals with ASD and accounts for 91% of the US total. Autistic individuals like the water because it is calming and peaceful. Approximately 48% of individuals with ASD elope/wander. When they do this, they may wander towards a body of water and will want to jump in to feel the calming effects. This program was  developed to address these alarming statistics and is open to individuals with ASD ages 4 to adult. Participants learn safety skills to prevent drowning, basic swimming skills, increase comfort level in the water, increase communication skills, and develop relationships with other families. A family-centered approach is used and the parent/guardian, family member or Registered Behavior Therapist (RBT) are trained to serve as the instructor. Each session is 8 weeks, meets once a week, and offers 3 30-minute lessons. The program is offered at two locations: Salvation Army Kroc Center, in Kapolei and University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, Duke Kahanamoku Aquatic Center.

Principal Investigator



Full profile


Hawaiʻi Autism Foundation
Special Parent Information Network (SPIN)