The Applied Behavior Center for Autism in Carmel is offering swim lessons for children with special needs.

The center offers one-on-one lessons in their indoor therapeutic pool. They also provide flotation devices and water toys. The certified instructors design each lesson to the individual's needs.

The CEO and founder of the Autism Center Sherry Quinn began the swimming program in 1995 after searching for care for her autistic son Michael.

The program is open to those of all developmental disabilities and can be scheduled as one-on-one or two-on-one sessions. Swimmers are taught about water safety and water desensitization, as well as how to swim.

After the recent drowning of a young Brownsburg boy with autism, the leadership at the center gathered to talk about what they could do to help prevent such tragedies.

"We met together and were just really sad. We tried to figure out what we could do to give back to our community," said Jane Grimes, Director of Admissions at the ABA Center. "We decided that we would give 25 free swim lessons."

The lessons are taught be a swim instructor who has been teaching swim skills for 12 years.

"Our goal is to teach them that basic water safety," said Dena Thomas, branch manager of the Carmel location. "If we can just give them the skills to keep them up for a couple of minutes if they get themselves into trouble."

The therapy the children receive at the center involves things like learning to blow bubbles and kick in the pool, lessons that would help them survive in a body of water.

Eight year old Max started at the Carmel center in October 2016. He wouldn't even go into the pool area because it was too loud. Nine months later he is holding his breath as he goes under the water during his swim lesson.

Max now knows how to kick, paddle, and swim. He wasn't even wearing his noise cancelling headphones as he was swimming from one side of the therapeutic heated pool to the other with his ABA therapist Mai Lyn Dunn.

"The steps include getting them to go into the pool area," said Thomas. "For Max, the issue is sound. So we gave him the headphones."

Each child has an individualized treatment plan designed to help them overcome whatever it is that hinders them from being in the water.

For more information on the center, go to