Proud of our Swim School Staff for winning the Autism Connections, Community Inclusion Award, nominated by Nicholle Harrison.
"I would to nominate Roots Aquatics in Westfield, especially swim instructor, Tara Gehring, and Aquatics Coordinator, Jenn Butler, for this award.
My son, Owen, who is on the autism spectrum, has been taking swim lessons at Roots since he was 18 months old, which is around the time he was diagnosed. He will be 4 in March. I enroll him all year round because not only does he absolutely love it but it has also been recommended by both his Occupational and Physical Therapists over the years. He has poor motor planning and wears braces on his feet as his feet turn out and ankles turn. Swimming has helped improve his balance, core strength and motor planning.
Owen has had the same instructor since he began lessons. Tara has been amazing and he absolutely adores her. Every Saturday morning when he sees Tara he squeals and flaps with delight.
Owen is non-verbal so Tara often inquires with me on how to better communicate with him. Both Tara and the Aquatics Coordinator, Jenn Butler, have made several accommodations to insure that Owen continues to stay in Tara’s class and gets the additional support he needs. An example of this is, this past summer, Tara’s class was already full when I went to register him. Jenn created another class just so Owen could continue to have Tara as his instructor. Another accommodation that Jenn has made for Owen is that his class is supposed to have one instructor to four children. Since Owen needs additional support she has added a second instructor to Owen’s classes so that he gets the attention that he needs. This way all the children in the class are getting the attention and instruction.
I am so grateful to Roots family for being so welcoming and accepting of Owen and our family. I believe they are the definition of what this award is intended to recognize."
- Nicholle, Swim School Parent