Erika Gleeson

NSW Nominee Australian of the Year 2022

In 2016, Senior Behaviour and Disability Specialist Erika Gleeson founded Autism Swim to mitigate the risk of drowning for children on the autism spectrum.

Children on the autism spectrum are 160 times more likely to drown than their peers. Many of them gravitate towards bodies of water because they associate water with alleviating their sensory needs. However, they often have limited ability to perceive its risks and dangers.

With a world-first and best-standard certification program, Autism Swim now operates in 20 countries, with thousands of individuals benefiting from specialised water safety, learn-to-swim programs and water therapy. Erika also consults to the New South Wales Police Rescue Team on how to prevent and respond to wandering and potential drowning situations, is on the boards of multiple disability organisations, and is the leading world expert on wandering and drowning prevention for those with other abilities.

Through Autism Swim, Erika’s passion and commitment to the cause is improving and saving the lives of many children with autism.