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Swimming Safety and ADD
Impulsivity and executive function are hallmarks of Attention Deficit Disorder. What does that mean, and how can it impact swimming safety? What does an expert on swimming safety have to say about drowning? Why should parents know the signs of drowning? How can drowning be prevented?
Executive function governs higher-level thinking skills related to evaluating situations, reasoning, and problem solving. Impulsivity happens when the executive function of the brain does not work correctly. When the impulse strikes, the body reacts! A kid walking along a cliff on a lake might decide to jump into the inviting water. Do they consider the depth or what metallic implements might be lurking below? Nope, the water looks cool on a hot day. A flight through the air to the lake looks exhilarating! What other problems can happen around water due to impaired executive function? A person can walk into water that has a current without accurately evaluating how strong that current is. Also, the bottoms of lakes and streams are not uniform like a swimming pool. Kids who only have swimming pool experience might not know that they can go from knee deep to over their heads in a single step. Lake and stream water are often not the crystal clear water of mountain lakes or swimming pools. It can be hard to see the bottom. These examples might seem overly dramatic, and danger can arise in a swimming pool, too.
Frank Pia, an internationally known expert on drowning, said recently on NPR, that people who are drowning do not look like a movie depiction of a drowning victim. Drowning is not thrashing around and yelling for help. It is quick, and it happens in "20-60 seconds." The drowning person is silent. Their mouth moves up above the water line, and then goes down below it. They cannot yell for help, since they are too busy trying to breathe. There is no forward motion. Drowning people bob up and down in place, or they look like they are dog paddling. Does drowning happen in isolation? Not necessarily. One account of near-drowning that I read was by a woman who was a lifeguard. She recounted saving a child who was in less than four feet of water. The child's mother was focused on something else, but was within arm's length of the child. That mother had no idea that her child was in mortal danger.
Boys have Attention Deficit Disorder at higher numbers than girls, and according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), boys are more likely to die of injuries than their female counterparts. The Dodge City Daily Globe reported in June of 2014 that " Drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury death for infants and children between the ages of 1 and 14 in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Itís also the fifth-leading cause for Americans of all ages." What can you do to keep your child with ADD safe?
Water Safety Tips:
*Swim where there is a lifeguard.
"Make sure that your child has swimming lessons and enough practice to develop strong swimming skills.
*Keep your eye on your child at all times. Stay near them.
*If a child is missing around water, check the water immediately.
*Only let your child participate in water activities with people who share your water safety values.
*Wear a flotation device when you are boating or are in natural waters.
*Never dive into water where you do not know the depth and cannot see the bottom.
*Fence a backyard pool (at least 4 feet high) and make sure that it has a self-latching gate that is locked when the pool is not in use. Store water toys away from the pool.
Kids with Attention Deficit Disorder are "adventure kids." Their natural impulsivity and curiosity can lead them into danger. Make sure that they understand water safety, and then enjoy your outdoor explorations.
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