INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Department of Education says more than 16,000 children in our state's public schools are diagnosed with some form of autism.
Teaching autistic children to swim is crucial and one Indianapolis-based organization is working hard to make that happen.
The Applied Behavior Center for Autism received a $5,000 grant Wednesday from Autism Speaks, a national autism advocacy group.
The money will be used to offer free swim lessons.
"Children with autism tend to be drawn to water," said the center's founder, Sherry Quinn. "We hear every year about the drownings of children in the neighborhood ponds. And with our swim program, what we are hoping to do is lessen that number dramatically."
91 percent of accidental deaths among children with autism are caused by drowning.
Quinn has been researching for years proper techniques on how to teach autistic children to swim.
"It is the number one cause of death among children with autism and we hear it every year," she said. "It saddens and breaks all of our hearts and our goal is that it never happens again."
That's why Jim Monroe is making sure his 12-year-old son learns to swim.
"My son especially, he's a runner. And given the opportunity, he'll run to either get away from what he doesn't want to do or get to what he does want to do," said Monroe. "So as we know that there are retention ponds and lakes in everybody's area, so the ability for him to, if he does get away, to be able to swim is paramount for his survival."
For more information about the swim lessons and other services offered by the The Applied Behavior Center for Autism, here is a link to the organization's website: https://www.appliedbehaviorcenter.org