The Swim Professor

Jim Reiser, M.S.

Swimming Lessons in September?

Here is a recent message I shared with our swim school parents:

Dear Families & Friends:

Would you consider dedicating 30-minutes of your child’s week to swimming instruction if you knew it could determine life or death?  Of course you would!

As fall approaches, I urge parents to consider continuing the pursuit of helping your child be the safest and strongest swimmer he/she can be!   Sure, we are all busy with school, other sports activities, etc., but the last thing we should do is substitute other activities for swimming instruction when our child is not yet a strong swimmer.

As a physical educator and coach, I am a HUGE advocate of children participating in multiple sports and activities.  My three boys play baseball, basketball, soccer, and have done karate.   But I would never substitute one of the sports at the cost of my child’s safety.   So just because the fall sports season is approaching, please continue your commitment to your child’s swimming safety and skills.

Learning to swim is a process, not an event.  Just like those who believe in karate for self-defense, stick with it, and pursue a black belt–EVERY PARENT should have their child pursue a “black belt in swimming” for their child’s safety.

SwimmingSafercerely!

Jim Reiser, Founder & President

Learn-to-Swim Professional

M.S. of Physical Education & Motor Skill Acquisition

The International Swimming Hall of Fame has named Jim Reiser the recipient of the 2015 Virginia Hunt Newman Award for his approach in teaching infants, toddlers, and children to swim. Jim is the first American to win the award in 20 years!

Jim has also been honored by:

USA Swimming as the Adolph Kiefer Water Safety Person of the Year

National Drowning & Prevention Alliance Lifesaver of the Year

World Aquatic Babies & Children Congress as the President’s Award Recipient for world-wide contributions to learn-to-swim.

July 29, 2015 at 11:34 pm Comments (0)

The International Swimming Hall of Fame Honors Jim Reiser

For the first time in 20 years, The International Swimming Hall of Fame’s has honored an American as the ISHOF Virginia Hunt Newman Award recipient.  The 2015 honoree is Jim Reiser, Founder & Executive Director of Swim Lessons University.

Reiser earned this honor by following Virginia Hunt Newman’s  footsteps, bringing worldwide attention to a kind, non-forceful, non-traumatic approach to learn to swim.  As the executive director of Swim Lessons University, Jim Reiser has led the way in creating online swim instructor training courses for teaching infants, toddlers, and young children to swim using a kind, gentle method– just as Virginia did.

Swim Lessons University uses the world-wide web and DVD video courses to train and certify swimming instructors to teach with this progressive, effective, yet gentle approach.  The Virginia Hunt Newman Award is sponsored by legendary Olympian Adolph Kiefer and the World Aquatic Babies and Children Congress.

For more information on Swim Lessons University Online Swim Instructor Certification, visit www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com or call 1-866-498-SWIM (7946).

Here are some highlights of the ceremony including a few words from Jim Reiser after being presented with the award:

June 25, 2015 at 2:21 am Comments (0)

Youth Sport Parents Priorities MUST CHANGE to PREVENT DROWNINGS!

It was the summer of 1982. I was just 13 years old when I got my first job as a Swim Instructor Aide teaching under my father at his swim school in Johnstown, PA. Between 1982 and 1990, I not only continued teaching, but I played about every sport I could play.   As a youth and teen, it was swimming, baseball, soccer, football, and basketball.   In high school, it was football, basketball, track, and swimming.   Oh yes, and I fiddled with karate after breaking my hand in 1985, and later pursued and earned a black belt in Tang Soo Do.

In college, after playing football my freshman year at California University of Pennsylvania, I started my own lean-to-swim program as a sophomore. While I wanted to keep playing football, a back injury during spring ball cut that career (going nowhere) short! While rehabilitating my back in the university pool, I got this idea to propose a Swim Lessons Program and lease the University pool.   After a lot of perseverance, it was finally approved.  In no time at all I knew I found my calling. I ended up in Columbia, SC  after accepting a graduate assistantship to teach aquatics for the University of South Carolina’s Physical Education Department while pursuing my master’s degree in Physical Education and Motor Skill Development.

I will be 46 years young next month, and coaching sports has been a huge part of my life. Coaching and teaching is my life. To me, nothing is more rewarding than utilizing sport to teach life skills to kids.   And sports are a wonderful medium to do that.  From 1993-2005, I coached year-round competitive swimmers from novice to elite, producing 20 National Top 16 Qualifiers.   For the past year and a half, I have been having the time of my life coaching my son’s AAU Basketball Team!

But while there are so many benefits our youth can learn from participating in most all youth sports with the right coach–there is one thing that cannot be denied about swimming:   Swimming is the only skill that can save a child’s life.”   The problem is, I don’t believe this statement is taken anywhere seriously enough by parents across the United States.

Why do I say this?  Because when I am not writing curriculum for Swim Lessons University or working on The Swim Lessons Company, I spend the majority of my life in the gym and on the local ball fields.  What do I see?   I SEE THOUSANDS of YOUNG KIDS playing t-ball, soccer, and basketball… And I know there are thousands of others also doing dance and gymnastics.   I WOULD LIKE TO APPLAUD EVERY SINGLE PARENT for giving their child these wonderful opportunities … BUT I CAN’T!

Why? Because my educated guess is that the majority of them can’t swim or they are WEAK swimmers!  And rather than making sure these children are learning a skill that could also save their life, parents are turning a blind eye to this fact.  Instead, parents are enrolling their children earlier and earlier in these other sports are hoping their son or daughter becomes the next Michael Jordan, LaBron James, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Tom Brady, Walter Payton, Pele, Lionel Messi, Roger Federer, Venus Williams, or Nadia Comaneci.

I understand that some families can’t afford swimming lessons.  Here in Columbia, SC, I have done two things to help create solutions for those families: First, we partnered with the USA Swimming “Make a Splash” program and discount all of our lessons at our downtown location by 40%!   Number two, Ebony Bowers and I co-founded The Swim Lessons Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) that affords children with FREE LESSONS to families who can’t afford them.   (I do feel we are underachieving in securing donations so if you can help by donating please go to www.SwimLessonsFoundation.Org )

But the fact is…DROWNING TAKES MORE LIVES THAN ANY OTHER ACCIDENT for children under the age of six, and ranks 2nd only to AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENTS for ages 6-14.

The point of my writing today is to ask you to consider re-prioritizing your child’s activities, especially if they can’t swim or swim well enough to save themselves.   Take a look at this blog, “SWIM LESSON OBJECTIVES,” which outlines what your child should be able to do at a variety of ages.  Would your child pass the test?  You can watch video samples of what I believe is a reasonable objective at a variety of ages.  You can find all those videos and blogs on this site!  For example, here is a link to the blog of  what every 3 & 4 year old are capable of learning if taught by a qualified instructor.

PLEASE REMEMBER THIS:  Learning to swim is a process, not an event!  Don’t wait until summer to enroll your child in swim lessons.   Find a child-centered, progressive swim program near you today!

Warm Regards,

Jim
Jim Reiser, Executive Director
Swim Lessons University
Jim Reiser has been named the 2015 Virginia Hunt Newman Award recipient by the International Swimming Hall of Fame!
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March 13, 2015 at 4:33 pm Comments (0)

Swim Lessons Results are Dependent Upon Effective Communication

So last night my wife Heather and I were winding down and watching reruns of “King of Queens” and she fell asleep on the couch.  I decided to head to bed and let her sleep.  Well a few hours later, our five-year old Nolan goes downstairs and decides to curl up on the couch with her in the middle of the night.  He then proceeds to wake her up and asks:  “Can we go upstairs and sleep in your bed?

Heather says: “Okay, but just for little bit.  Then you need to go back to sleep in your bed like a big boy.  You go ahead up and warm the bed up for us and I’ll be up in 5 minutes.”

Nolan responds: “I have no idea what you’re saying to me!” LOL!

This leads me to our choice of words and lingo when teaching young children to swim.  Too often we try to impress the parents and use advanced terminology.  While it may sound good to the parents, more often than not our young students don’t understand what we are trying to convey to them.  In my 5-Year old Nolan’s words:, “I have no idea what you’re saying to me!”   If they don’t understand what we are telling them, learning will be hindered.  On the contrary, if a Swim Instructor uses the K.I.S.S.  technique (Keep it Simple Stupid), children will learn to swim faster.

If you’d like to learn the teaching cues and terminology we have tested and tried specifically for children in our Swim Lessons University courses, visit our website and learn more about our Swim Instructor certifications, DVD and Online video courses, and swim lesson plans today!

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January 19, 2015 at 11:05 am Comments (0)

NCAA Swimming Scholarships may become EXTINCT!

You read it correctly!    IF we care about the sport of swimming, whether you are swimming instructors, swim coaches, swim parents, or fans–we must get ready to fight for it, as ASCA Executive Director John Leonard writes in his article below.

Take a minute to read it now.  As always, John’s articles are honest, informative, and to the point.  He doesn’t dance around and politic.

He tells you the way it is.

With John’s permission, I share with you:

 

The House Is On Fire”

By John Leonard

One of the key roles that the American Swimming Coaches Association has played in American Swimming since 1958, is to warn of threats to our sport. Today, I am going to tell you about the biggest threat to American Swimming in the history of our sport.

NCAA Scholarship Swimming is under assault. And very likely to become extinct SOON if we don’t act to save it.

This is critical to all of us for two reasons:

First, for ALL of us, the USA is the only country in the world where a young man or young lady taking her/his first swimming lesson TODAY, has NO LIMITS on their future! They can choose to swim a little, swim a lot, excel, (or not) go through high school swimming, move on to the world’s most competitive program in NCAA swimming. (which attracts athletes from all over the globe, seeking what they don’t have at home) and go on to be an Olympian.

Or they can chose to do summer league swimming, swim in high school, move on to academic life, and never swim again.

The Point is, THEY HAVE THE CHOICE.

In no other place on earth is that the case. In most of the globe, that young lady or man has almost nothing BUT limits – and most, even if they are serious youth swimmers, have no choice but to quit swimming between 15-18 and concentrate on academics which determine their future. No option of Scholarships, no option of elite coaching – no realistic dreams of being the best they can be. Their swimming careers END between 15-18.

NCAA Scholarship Swimming KEEPS THE DREAM ALIVE! KEEPS THE OPTIONS, OPEN!

It DE-LIMITS EVERY AMERICAN SWIMMER!  DREAM, WORK, ACHIEVE. (if you chose to.)

Second, for all the reasons outlined above, NCAA Scholarship Swimming is the engine that drives our Olympic/International Success. Those 6,000 NCAA Scholarship Swimmers who keep swimming from 18-24 as they mature (and late maturers are the leading edge of elite athletes) are the talent pool which we have drawn on to lead the world in swimming for more than 100 years now. NCAA Scholarship Swimming is the EDGE that we have over the rest of the Swimming world.

IF NCAA Scholarships go away, the USA in ten years will look like a second rate swimming nation. We’ll have similar numbers of elite athletes, except some of our friends live in countries where swimming really COUNTS in the culture. You all know where swimming ranks in the USA in terms of cultural importance.

So, what do we do?

You’ll hear lots of work ideas and see lots in action soon. We have about a 12-24 month window to save scholarship swimming and elite coaching jobs in the NCAA. Within 24 months, the path will be set. Universities will be either keeping or dropping scholarships and full time elite coaching jobs by then. All of this DRIVEN of course, by the insatiable need for dollars for football and basketball players, and 6 Million Dollar a year football coaches.

We will need YOU to rally your teams. Get tons of letters and emails written to University Presidents and Athletic Directors in support of the Real Student Athletes swimmers. The College Swimming Coaches Association of America and the ASCA are working together with USA Swimming to develop the plan, and ask you to work the plan.

I am personally so offended by the hypocrisy of the NCAA ad that goes on about “most of them will go pro in something other than sports.” Which implies that the NCAA actually has something to do with that! WHILE the finance of University sport heads inexorably towards the ELIMINATION OF OLYMPIC SPORTS in favor of the semi-pro leagues for football and basketball players.

It’s a toss up right now whether the IOC/FINA or the NCAA is the most hypocritical organization in the world of sports today – but that’s a discussion for another day.

What is for today is simply this… if you love American Swimming, get ready to fight for it.

We’ll need ALL OF US, TOGETHER, to save it.

Let’s Go USA. We can do this. Plans coming. House on Fire. Man The  Buckets.

All the Best, John Leonard

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January 2, 2015 at 3:29 pm Comments (0)

Swim Lessons Levels: Move up or stay down?

Dear Mr. Reiser,

I don’t know if other coaches have asked this question but…..After finishing a season of teaching & starting a new one a few months later–do you start your children in the level that they were at before or do you place them in the lower level to make sure the skills they learnt are still familiar?

If my swim lessons student swam without the flotation devise and performed the Surface Swim with Pop-up Style Breathing (just about) at the end of the season last year, do I place him in “Swim Strokes 201″ right away or go back to “Swim 101?” I’d appreciate your thoughts.

Thank you.

Helen H., Aquatics Director

Vero Beach, FL

Excellent questions.  Helen!  Your first question: 

Do you start your children in the swim level that they were at before or do you place them in the lower level to make sure the skills they learnt are still familiar?   Generally speaking, we would recommend that you place the child in whatever level he left off before taking a break.  Do students come back a little rusty sometimes?  Of course!   But our experience is that that won’t last very long.  Within a lesson or two, the skills and stamina will be back.   While I don’t like to compare swimming to riding a bike because it is much more complex skill, there is still truth in the statement.  Once you learn a skill, you don’t forget it.   You may lose conditioning, flexibility, reaction time, etc., but you remember the skill.

Your second question:

If my student swam without the flotation devise, Surface Swimming with Pop-up Style Breathing (just about) at the end of the season last year, do you place him in “Swim Strokes 201” right away or go back to “Swim 101?”  Now this part is a slight bit trickier.  Quite frankly, I would base some of this decision around the child’s age as well as the quality and consistency of his performance.

For example:   If you have a 3-year old or even young 4-year old who just barely passed the “Surface Swim with Pop-up Style Breathing,” then I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend that he continue to strengthen this skill.  If your best judgment is that you believe the young child will struggle to learn the new skill of Freestyle (Front Crawl), then I would recommend to his parents that the “Swim 101” skills are going to be a little more age-appropriate and stick with those for another session or so until they are “mastered.”  Don’t get me wrong, 4-year olds and some 3-year olds can pick up a crawl stroke, but there is plenty of time for that if the Basic Surface Swim with Pop-up Style Breathing can still improve a good deal. 

When you look at the child development literature, research shows that most children develop in a natural, predictable sequence from one developmental milestone to the next.  AND THIS MILESTONE stands out to me in this case:  On average, three to five year olds do NOT have real control over their major muscles. They lack coordination, which is critical to combining the arms and legs in putting together the front crawl.  So this is why we teach 3-5 year olds the Surface Swim with Pop-up Style Breathing.  But again, as we pointed out earlier, once a 3-5 year old has mastered the “Swim 101” skills and is stroke ready, you can graduate him to “Swim Strokes 201” and add the Front Crawl (Freestyle). 

I hope this helps, Helen!  The brand new 2nd Edition of Swim 101 is coming soon!  Pre-order it today and get 20% off!

 

 

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January 29, 2014 at 11:15 pm Comments (0)

Swim Instructor Common Questions

Dear Swim Professor:

I want to ask you how you deal with young children who have fear in water? I’ve heard about lots of different approaches. Some say put them underwater so they’ll be forced to learn to swim. Others say let them play and have fun until they feel ready. And with these children to you think it’s better to give them support aids like life vests so they can just play in the water? Or will that delay their learning how to swim and help them rely on support and lose confidence in their own ability to swim without support?

Thanks for taking the time to read my question! I’m hoping you’ll be able to answer quickly.

Thanks again,
Chavie

Dear Chavie,

I admire your dedication on teaching children how to swim. What is just as impressive is that you are taking the initiative to research the best way to do it. What I am going to do in this blog is give you my short answer, and refer you to other blogs that I have already written on your common, but excellent questions to give you more detail.

1. Always use a child-centered approach. NEVER force. The child’s enjoyment of the process is just as important as the outcome. In fact, it is more important.
2. While unstructured play is good and encouraged, you can and should also incorporate age-appropriate “activities” in your swimming lesson setting. In other words, you make learning to swim feel like play, though you are actually teaching the child how to swim. This is paramount when teaching preschoolers how to swim.
3. If you use one of the SLU approved “Progressive Flotation devices” CORRECTLY, your students will not only learn to swim faster, but swimming will be a more enjoyable experience (and a safer one).

Here is what I would recommend that you do:
1. Go to SEARCH BOX on the right side of this blog page and type in the following topics:
            Fearful
            Flotation
            Swim 101
When you search these keywords, you will find more specific information AND more thorough answers to your questions. Many of them also include video examples as well.

2. The second thing I would recommend is that you consider taking our Swim Lessons University courses. All courses are video-based and you can take the certification exams online. Swim Lessons University training and certification is now being used by YMCAs, Recreation Departments, Swim Schools, Pool Management companies, and private swimming instructors in 31 states and 11 countries.

Based on your questions today, I would get started on these Swim Instructor Training courses:
1. Teach Like a Pro – The Foundations of Teaching
2. From Tears to Cheers – How to Help Children Overcome Their Fears (audio program)
3. Swim 101 – A Comprehensive Video Course for Teaching Young Children How to Swim

Once you go through the video course, then  go to Instructor Tools to take your online swim instructor certification exam. We also recommend 3 hours of practicum training per course with a Swim Lessons University certified Learn-to-Swim Professional.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at jreiser@swimprofessor.com or CALL us toll-free at 1-866-498-SWIM (7946).

Thank you!

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January 9, 2014 at 1:32 pm Comments (0)

Chicago Swim Instructor Training

Swim Instructors, Aquatic Directors, and Learn-to-swim professionals can now take advantage of the next Swim Lessons University “One-Day” Conference. This affordable event for swim teachers will feature four information-packed, entertaining talks featuring BRAND NEW VIDEO FOOTAGE throughout the Swim Professor’s power point presentations.

The topics covered in those presentations are as follows:

Talk #1: TEACH LIKE A PRO! The Foundations of Teaching Using Sound Pedagogy Principles.

Talk #2: NO MORE TEARS! Secrets to Teaching Parent & Tot Lessons using a Progressive, Child-Centered Approach.

Talk #3: PRE-SCHOOLERS CAN SWIM! An Innovative, Child-Centered Approach that Creates a Lifelong Love of the Water.

Talk #4: TIPS & TRICKS FOR TEACHING ADVANCED STROKES!

What do attendees say after the event?  Take a look for yourself!  These comments were copied directly from the Swim Lessons University Facebook page from three recent events:

Jane Garvey-Reilly Elder   As a participant in the workshop yesterday, I concur that the information beautifully delivered was bountiful. Albeit I have taught swimming since 1967, I shall be delighted to incorporate these novel ideas concerning delivery to my young students!

Charlotte Boswell Hoolihan   Great presentations at your workshop at the ASCA World Clinic in New Orleans, LA. Thank you for all of your insight!

Stacy Warren   Invaluable information today Jim! Thank you for coming to Sacramento!

Questions?  Call Swim Lessons University TOLL FREE at 1-866-498-7946 or email Jim Reiser at jreiser@swimprofessor.com today!

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January 8, 2014 at 1:57 pm Comments (0)

Swim Lessons Cancellations and Make-ups

What do you do when you cancel swim classes for thunder and lightning?   BUT shortly after, the weather clears up and the instructors are gone!
What do you do when a customer shows up with their little one?  BUT you cancelled classes for the day and THEIR CHILD is devastated!
What do you do when a pump motor goes bad and you have to cancel class unexpectedly?  Even though you reschedule, it is NOT convenient for “some” of your families.
What do you do when a student misses class due to illness, travel, or because of another commitment?  But you already paid the instructor, you paid your pool rent, etc.

I am here to tell you, there is NO one right or wrong way to handle these situations. What is right for your business may be detrimental to mine. What works for me may be a disaster for you.

Also keep in mind:   What felt comfortable when you wrote your policies and procedures may not feel so comfortable now that you have an angry customer on the other end of the line.  This is normal.  And this is why we have to always be open to change.  Change is inevitable. When you choose to embrace change you will begin to see it as an opportunity for growth.

So where do you start? Personally, I start with my customers. If they aren’t happy, quite frankly, I am not happy. Second, I listen to my staff. If they aren’t happy, I am not happy. Third, I listen to my gut. If my gut tells me it doesn’t feel right–it’s time for a change!

I did leave out a fourth area that gives you an opportunity for positive growth. Research! There is no shortage of great information out there. When it comes to customer service, one of my favorite books is called “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless, by Jeffrey Gitomer. He really inspired me to make it a policy in my office to NEVER use the term policy. That’s right. We have NO POLICIES!

When you’re in the customer’s shoes, how do you feel when you hear the “policy” excuse?  Me? I feel that the business doesn’t value me as a customer. When I feel that way, I take MY business elsewhere!  Where is “elsewhere?”   Usually the nearest competitor!  

Do I ever feel taken advantage of?  Admittedly, I do. It’s not a good feeling either.  But only on a rare occasion do we take a stance and put our foot down.  Because usually we realize that the alternative is worse.  Upset customers tell everyone who will listen their side of the story–not ours.   In those situations you not only lose that customer–but perhaps several other potential customers.  Today with social media, several can become thousands overnight!   So in the end, you have to ask yourself, “is it worth it?”  “Which decision will help me sleep better at night?” That’s the bottom line.

So what can you do?  When our customers register, whether online or by phone, they acknowledge ONE BY ONE  a number of “Registration Agreements.”  If there is a problem later, my office  can refer the customer back to these BUT we handle each case individually and with care. Our goal is to make each customer feel appreciated.   As of today, here is what The Swim Lessons Company families agree to (in terms of cancellations and make-ups) when they register:

____In order to determine your make-up when a class is cancelled due to weather issues, go to www.swimlessonscompany.com and select the “Make-up Schedule” button in top navigation bar.  All make-ups due to weather will be posted within 24 hours.

____If your class is cancelled for any reason, it will be made up at the same time and same location on another available day, i.e, Thursday or Friday. The make-up will be posted on the website under “Make-up Schedule.”

____In the event of an unforeseeable cancellation, i.e., an instructor is sick, pool mechanical problem, water temperature issue, etc.—an SLC representative will call you on the number you listed under “home phone” when creating your account. This is the only contact number shown on the instructor’s roster.  If you would rather us call your cell phone, please contact the office immediately to change that information.

____While there are no refunds for missed classes that have been taught, if you miss class due to illness, travel, other obligation, etc., email Jim Reiser at swimprofessor@sc.rr.com  Let him know that you missed your class and would like to schedule a make-up.  Providing there is a class opening available, we can offer you a makeup at that time during the back half of the session (In other words, once the Live Online Registration Period has ended to avoid over booking a class). If all classes are full and a make-up is not possible during the current session, we are happy to offer you a full credit for that class with no expiration date to be deducted against a future registration.

So that’s what our customers “agree to” when they register, whether online or over the phone.  There are also a number of other registration agreements, but that’s how we handle “Cancellations & Make-ups” today.   I do believe that by publishing your terms and conditions in a contract form, having the customer physically “check a box” beside each term is a very pro-active way of preventing problems from arising.  It may not prevent them all, but in the big picture, you will find it to be a very effective strategy. 

I hope today’s blog helps you!  If you would like to schedule a “One-on-one Phone Consultation,” you will be delighted to see how reasonably priced they are.  To schedule your personal consultation OR for more information, check it out on the Swim Lessons University website today!

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December 30, 2013 at 5:42 pm Comments (0)

AUTISM LIVE TV on Learn-to-swim

Jim Reiser and Vi Hendley, authors and producers of Teaching Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder to Swim, were recently featured as special guests on Autism Live TV. 

Autism Live is an interactive webshow providing support, resources, information, facts, entertainment and inspiration to parents, teachers and practitioners working with children on the Autism Spectrum.  We are happy to share with you this special segment, hosted by Shannon Penrod and Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson, about learn-to-swim for children on the autism spectrum.

 

Shannon Penrod is the proud mother of a nine-year old who is recovering from Autism. Her son Jem was diagnosed at the age of two and a half after having lost virtually all of his language and social skills.

Helping her son on his journey through Autism became Shannon’s top priority. Whether it was researching new diets, learning the legal ins and outs of special education law or finding funding for ABA therapy, Shannon became her son’s best advocate and an advocate for many other families. In 2009, Shannon began the host and producer of Everyday Autism Miracles, a weekly radio show that focuses solely on Autism and hope.

An award winning stand-up comedienne, director and author, Shannon’s goal is to provide families with information and hope while on their journey through autism.

Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson is an Emmy award-winning, former national television producer and executive who pioneered the magazine program format with Westinghouse’s PM Magazine. After serving as Vice-President of Group W Productions, she served as executive producer for a number of network and nationally syndicated programs, including the long-running NBC talk show, LEEZA. A former high-powered television producer turned author and activist on the subject of fearless aging and autism awareness. She co-authored Not Your Mother’s Midlife: A Ten Step guide to Fearless Aging (Andrews McMeel) and Fearless Women: Midlife Portraits (Stewart, Tabori & Chang). She wrote and performed in the stage show “Boomer Babes” and has done motivational speaking to sold out audiences around the country.

She has been honored with the United Press International Award, the Associated Press Award, the Gabriel Award, the Genesis Award, as well as having been named one of the Hollywood Reporters “Women to Watch”. Having grown up with a younger brother with Down Syndrome, Alspaugh-Jackson was aware of the challenges families face raising special needs children. She feels it was no accident that she was given a special needs child to raise herself. Alspaugh-Jackson feels her most important assignment came after her adopted son Wyatt was diagnosed with autism at the age of three (Wyatt is now 11 and making tremendous progress). Although Wyatt started displaying signs of autism at the age of 2, he was not diagnosed with the disorder until three and a half and did not receive effective treatment until the age of four and a half.

With that in mind she began working to help other families find the resources for autism care and treatment. She became the executive director of ACT Today! (Autism Care and Treatment Today!), a national non-profit organization whose mission is to provide resources and fund grants for children whose families cannot afford the necessary tools their child needs to reach their full potential.

In the last five years, she has raised 5 million dollars for autism care and treatment, and launched the first national campaign for military children with autism, ACT Today! for Military Families.

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December 18, 2013 at 5:40 pm Comments (0)

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