Meet our Team from this summer!

Meet our team! This past summer we had a variety of occupational therapy students help out with our 10-week AquOTic program. Our team’s background and passion for the field of occupational therapy has contributed to the success of this AquOTic program. The members of our team included…

  • Undergraduate students pursuing occupational therapy
  • Current OTD students
  • One student pursuing her PHD
  • Dr. Erika Kemp (founder of the AquOTic program)

AquOTic picture

How does our AquOTic program differ from other adaptive swimming programs?

Our team has carefully developed an innovative occupational therapy (OT) based aquatic program “AquOTic” for children with ASD. This program uses a variety of OT approaches and techniques to help improve both water safety skills and basic swim skills. This unique program differs greatly from other existing adaptive swimming programs in many ways.

Listed below are some examples of how AquOTic differs from other adaptive swimming programs:

Finding Adaptive Swimming Lessons

A quick and easy guide for parents and caregivers of children with disabilities. 

Are you looking for adaptive swimming lessons that are appropriate for your child? Listed below are some tips & tricks to find a learn-to-swim program that works for your family!

  1. Word of Mouth
    • Other parents, online groups, support groups, or diagnosis-specific organizations.
  2. Community Centers 
    • Rec centers, YMCAs, swim schools, parks and recreation departments, school and pools.
  3. Professionals
    • Pediatricians, intervention specialists, early intervention specialists, occupational or physical therapists, adaptive P. E. teachers.

Ask Your Network

Take advantage of the knowledge that could be in your community. Start by asking around your network about swim lessons in your community and if there are funding sources available. Ask your county’s Developmental Disabilities agency if there are funds available through Medicaid waivers, country grants/funds, etc. Your case manager, service coordinator, early intervention specialist, or intervention specialist may be able to help.

Questions to Ask

Once you find an instructor/facility, ask specific questions to get the full picture ahead of time. Some questions that you may want to consider asking include:

  1. When are the lessons offered? How long is a lesson? How many weeks/months long in a session?
  2. Has the instructor received disability/behavior-specific training?
  3. What are the accessibility features of the pool? Is there a chair lift? Is the pool zero entry? Is the pool heated?
  4. Are there private/family changing rooms, or adult changing tables?
  5. Is my child cleared to be in the water? Do they need to be toilet trained? Have they been cleared by their doctor?
  6. Is it a group lesson? How many children will be in the water? What is the ratio of swim instructors to children? Will a parent be in the water with their child?
  7. Is the swim curriculum flexible? Can it be modified for parent-directed goals or the child’s abilities?

T4CIP developed this document in collaboration with: Marilyn Bull, MD, FAAP and Erika Kemp, OTD, OTR/L, BCP.

Looking Forward to the Fall!

Our team is so excited to welcome all of the new kids joining our study this fall. We know that parents can feel nervous about joining a new study and watching their child participate in a new skill. The purpose of this post is to provide parents with some background information about what the purpose of this study is, explain what the future of this blog will entail, and hopefully calm some of the upcoming nerves before we start soon.

What to know about the study before it starts!

The AquOTic study is a 10-week program that is aimed to help children with autism learn and improve their basic swimming skills. Every child in the study will be paired up with 1 student who has been through aquatic training and is knowledgeable about autism spectrum disorder. This 1-to-1 treatment style is what makes this study unique and supports growth as your child will begin to improve on their swim skills. This also ensures that every child will be in very safe hands throughout the entirety of the sessions.

Where does the study take place?

The pool your child will be swimming in is the West Central School pool. This pool is a therapeutic pool which means that the temperature of the pool is set to around 90 degrees, in order to ensure that all of the children are comfortable in the water.

Address: 1481 W Town St, Columbus, OH 43223

What to expect from the Students & Coordinators of this Study?

The students and faculty working on this study will ensure to always have open communication with the parents and caregivers of all the children in the study. Please feel free to ask anyone working on the study questions that you might have or concerns that ever arise. The lab team is here as a resource to help you and your child feel comfortable throughout the duration of the study.


Looking for other adaptive lesson options?

Are you already on our waitlist? Still need something in the meantime?

We wish we could serve every family that reaches out to us, and we are certainly working on expanding our research.  If your child does not fit the criteria for a current study, or you just want to try something else, we have listed below some other options.  If you know of something else, please contact us so we can add it to this blogpost!

Columbus Parks & Rec (Adaptive Rec) offers inclusion support for their regular swim lessons.  When you register for lessons, indicate the need for inclusion and they will work to provide an aide during lessons.  They also offer an adaptive swim clinic that practices throughout the swim season (fall/winter).

Coralinas Synchronized Swim Team offers a team option for those with disabilities.

Westerville Community Center  provides pool time to independent swim providers.  You can ask the Aquatics department for referrals.  They will also be offering an instance of our group-based program in March/April of 2024, on Friday afternoons.  They will handle registration.  They also have a new adaptive & inclusive program manager and are expanding their land-based offerings as well.

Safe Splash in Hilliard/Dublin area –  Manager Sunaz Hatunoglu (  They offer 1:1 private lessons for children with special needs.

BlueFish – An Ohio State student organization that offers group water exposure activities for children with special needs.

Ohio State RPAC offers private swim lessons in which they serve both typical children those with diverse needs.

The United States Swim School Association also lists other swim lesson options and is searchable.



Thank you for your interest in the AquOTic program, a therapeutic aquatic intervention to help teach autistic children to swim and be safe in an aquatic environment.

Our website is in process of being built a little every week, so please feel free to check back often.