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Dr. Rippetoe joins the Staff of One with the Water   
Daniel Rippetoe, MD, will provide answers to medical questions you might have when it comes to teaching swimming lessons to kids with special needs. His blog will be posted several times a month, and answering questions weekly. 

Dan Rippetoe, MD, Joins The Staff Of One With The Water

Thank you to Coach Kenneth for inviting me to participate in an Autism vs. Swimming blog. This being the first of my bloggering, I must say I won’t vouch for the direction or validity of the information. I will do my best to cite references of both empirical data and anecdotal observations. Although my residency was at a university with a premiere Autism research program under the Child Psychiatry fellowship, I did not participate in that fellowship after my general adult psychiatry residency training. For further disclosure’s sake I must admit my personal biases towards Autism from anecdotal experiences. The son of my undergraduate mentor, Alan Clark MD, was diagnosed with regressive autism at the age of 7 years after receiving double dosage of thimerosal-preserved flu vaccine. Children are to receive two half doses and Devin received the full vial both times. This resulted in Alan and wife Lujene founding and beginning a political campaign to personally lobby congressmen and senators at state and national levels.

During medical school, I was fortunate to teach swimming one-on-one to a child diagnosed with autism. He had been enrolled in typical swimming classes but the lack of personal engagement resulted in poor results. I think the key was really our mutual interest in robots and an emphasis on ‘learn by doing’ versus verbal instruction. My daughters often tell me I have tricked them into learning to swim, inferring they had no idea they were receiving lessons while we were in the pool. Typically, One with the Water teaches swimming lessons with the same approach – having fun while learning!

As Autism elicits extreme emotional response in all of us, I will not attempt to propagate any “snake-oil” treatment nor disregard the scientific evidence. Instead I will attempt to meet in the middle approach, or as Dr. Clark used to say “where the rubber meets the fish bowl.” Swimming is likely the second best form of exercise but much more accessible than rock climbing. As there are few rocks to climb here in Indiana, I will keep the focus of this blog related to swimming lessons and Autism and special needs, and perhaps occasionally Lady Gaga who is rumored to have Asperger traits. As this blog is for the members and followers of One with the Water, I strongly encourage requests/suggestions about Autism and specific topics you’d like to learn more about. I am truly your humble servant in this endeavor.

Daniel Rippetoe, MD


Kenny is a baby Bottlenose dolphin, of the genus Tursiops, one of the most common and well-known members of the family Delphinidae, the family of oceanic dolphin. He is very playful and friendly and loves to frequently leap above the water surface. Kenny plays with water toys, enjoys making bubble rings, and plays well with other dolphins or other animals.

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