Occupational Therapists with aquatic training work with children in the pool who have a variety of disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, sensory processing disorder, spina bifida, mental illnesses, intellectual or learning disabilities, muscular dystrophy, and down syndrome. Your therapist will complete an initial aquatics assessment with the child in their first session and create goals targeted to their specific areas of need. Sessions are completed at a pool within the community and we typically work with the child on a 1:1 basis in the water. 

Occupational Therapy
Occupational Therapy

While any child could benefit from aquatic OT, children who have significant sensory and/or motor issues may benefit the most. Examples of children who might benefit from aquatics include:


    • Children who are fearful of water in the pool or bath-time

    • A child who is easily overwhelmed in loud or busy environments

    • A child who struggles with gravitational insecurity or other vestibular problems. For example, children who become distressed with having their feet off the ground while climbing stairs, curbs, or playground equipment, or kids who become distressed with their head upside down.

    • Children who seek a lot of input (constantly moving or touching things) and have a hard time settling down

    • Children who have motor difficulties, such as:

      • Trouble with coordination and difficulty using smooth, fluid body movements to complete everyday tasks

      • Poor midline crossing

      • Difficulty using both hands at the same time for the task

      • Decreased muscle strength

      • Limited range of motion

      • Low or high muscle tone

      • Spasticity.

If your child is already in more traditional occupational therapy, why make the switch?

  • Depending on the task, the water can be used as
    • resistance (strengthening muscles; intense proprioceptive input)
    • assistance with movement in a gravity reduced environment that is unlike any other equipment available in the traditional clinic. This provides decreased strain on muscles/joints and is easier for weight bearing.
    • It allows us to work on navigating the community in an unpredictable environment

Aquatic therapy works wonderfully as stand-alone therapy or as an adjunct to your child’s current therapy. Benefits of working in the water include:


  • A calming, serene environment 
  • An opportunity to work on community participation and social skills 
  • Excellent whole-body sensory input 
  • Having fun while working on targeted areas of need!

One family shared that after making great gains in the clinic, their child’s progress started to plateau.  Moving sessions to the pool opened up new level of engagement, provided novelty, and was an added motivator to keep their child moving forward!

Related Blog Posts

Autistic Masking

Autistic masking is when an autistic person hides or alters their natural responses in order to appear more neurotypical. In the past, some therapists, educators, and families may have explicitly taught masking behaviors in order to help the individuals that they work...

What is the Deal with Co-Regulation?

Have you ever heard of the term co-regulation? Co-regulation is defined as warm and responsive interactions that provide the support, coaching, and modeling children need to understand, express, and modulate their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.  In order to...

Teens & Leisure Skills

Check out Nicole’s blog post and youtube video for information on leisure skills and how to encourage your teenager to participate in appropriate leisure activities!

FAQs: Occupational & Speech Therapy for Adults

Although Emerge is best known for our pediatric therapy, we also work with adult clients as well! Check out these FAQs on our adult services.

Potty Training: Considerations for Children with Complex Needs

Is your child at the age where they are transitioning from diapers to potty training? Is it a struggle? Do they have complex needs, such as sensory sensitivities or communication difficulties, that require special consideration? We hear you and our team is here to...

Sensory Diets: What Are They and How to Make Them Work for Your Family

While the word “diet” is often associated with unhappy connotations of duty or requirement, a sensory diet is quite different. A sensory diet is a specifically organized plan of tools and activities to include throughout your child’s day to support their participation...

Sensory Bins

Sensory bins ... What are they? Why do we use them for therapy?   Sensory bins are fun (and functional) therapy tools! They provide the opportunity to experience different textures during play and for some kids, it can help increase their tolerance of different...

Adult Cognitive Therapy and Rehabilitation

Emerge is happy to start offering services to adults! One of the services we offer for adults is cognitive therapy. Read below and checkout our website to learn more the adult services now being offered at Emerge!What is Cognitive Therapy and Rehabilitation?Cognitive...

Feeding Issues: When Signs Point to the GI Tract

Have you ever experienced a change in your appetite when you weren’t feeling well?  Experienced reflux?  Been constipated?  What happened?  Chances are that you were able to assess how your body was feeling and identify ways to make it feel better. Or you had the...

Bye Bye Diapers – It’s Potty Time!

Are you tired of changing your child’s diaper or helping them wipe their bottom? Do you know when to begin potty training?  A search in any parenting group or forum on Facebook or elsewhere, related to potty training, will unearth many people with many different...

Learn More

Websites and Online Articles
Coming Soon