Strathkelvin and Bearsden MSP in call for autism-friendly hour at swimming pools

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Bearsden MSP Rona Mackay is appealing for an autism-friendly hour in all swimming pools in East Dunbartonshire.

This week is World Autism Awareness Week and the local politician has written to Mark Grant, general manager of East Dunbartonshire Leisure Trust, to ask for a quiet hour in all pools for children and adults with autism, and other sensory conditions.

Research has revealed that people with autism, who engage in activities such as swimming, tennis or other recreational activities, benefit from increased strength, endurance, co-ordination, and motor skills.

Ms Mackay said: “After a local constituent contacted me about his young son, I wanted to try and raise awareness of autism and the benefit activities such as swimming can have on their well-being.

“Swimming pools can be a sensory overload for individuals with autism and I hope the leisure trust can engage with Scottish Autism to discuss a way forward to make these already wonderful leisure centres more accessible to people with autism, and other sensory conditions.

“I would also encourage other retail and hospitality businesses to become more welcoming and accessible to autistic individuals and their families.”

Scottish Autism recently launched a new guidance document, which can be accessed at: https://www.scottishautism.org/myfive”

Renfrewshire dipped its toe into autism-friendly swimming last year.

For one hour each week, a leisure centre in the area turns down music and whistles are not used within the vicinity of the pool to ensure a sensory-friendly environment where staff understand needs of children and families with autism.