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Medical Edge: Water therapy and autism

CINCINNATI (Liz Bonis) -- A local mother says a water therapy and swim program at Cincinnati Sports Club has made all the difference for her son who is living with a diagnosis of autism.
Swim coach Brian Bendel said, "The first time I saw him I basically threw him in the water and I told him to swim and show me what you can do, and we took it from there."
When Coach Bendel first met Matt Bruce, who is now 16, he had no idea how it would change both of their lives.  Matt is living with a diagnosis of autism but says when it comes to therapy in a warm water pool he can't get enough.

"It makes you more energetic and feel more energized," said Matt.

But what started as more of an experiment soon became an exercise in

Now, Matt can, "Swim freestyle, and backstroke and sometimes breast stroke which I am starting to get good at now," said Carol Bruce, Matt's mom.  "He just took to it really quickly, within a year he was on the swim team."

Matt's coaches and his mom say a lot of the benefit came from just the ability to complete a task, to feel like you can get better at something.  They suggested any special needs child might benefit from this therapy partly because you just have a good time doing it!

In the water Matt showed his strength, endurance and competitive spirit.  Matt's been quite the inspiration to those who've seen his progress in the pool.

Coach Bendel said, "It's amazing, he can do anything he puts his mind to."

Matt said now he just wants others to know if he can do it, so can you.  Cincinnati Sports Club, one of many in the tri-state area, offers swim programs to students of all skill levels.

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