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John K. Williams, Jr. International Adapted Aquatics Award

John K. Williams, Jr. International Adapted Aquatics Award

2004 Dori Maxon


Dori Maxon PT, PCS, MEd is a physical therapist recognized by the American Physical Therapy Association as a Board Certified Clinical Specialist in Pediatric Physical Therapy (1996). She has been involved in providing aquatic services to a variety of populations since 1978. In 1991, she founded and continues to direct the Special Needs Aquatic Program (SNAP) in Richmond, California, which provides aquatic physical therapy and adapted aquatic services to infants, children and teens in a community-based setting. She works with infants through teens with a variety of conditions including cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, Noonan’s Syndrome, developmental delays, sensory integration needs and autism. She works in small groups, stressing self confidence and the joy of movement and fitness in a safe, noncompetitive and success-oriented atmosphere.


Dori has been a physical therapist since 1991, a Red Cross water safety instructor since 1978, an adapted aquatics instructor since 1983, and a lifeguard since 1977. She is a Master trainer for teachers of adapted aquatics through the Aquatics Council of the AAHPERD, is certified by the Aquatic Therapy and Rehab Institute, is a certified instructor for the Arthritis Foundation and Aquatic Exercise Association, and is a certified WATSU™ practitioner. Dori received a Master’s degree in Perceptual and Motor Development from George Washington University in 1987 and a Master’s degree in Community Health and Physical Therapy from Old Dominion University in 1990.


She has taught perceptual and motor development at the YWCA of Vienna, VA, Washington, DC area preschools, Arlington, VA Public Schools and Aurora (CO) Public Schools in all grades of special populations from 1983 to 1989. From 1989 to 1995, she has been associated with hospital care in orthopedics, skilled nursing and acute care. She has attended over 45 continuing education sessions in aquatics and aquatics certification courses, seating, orthopedics, neurodevelopment and sensory integration and manual therapies.


Dori combines many types of intervention in her work including neurodevelopment treatment, sensory integration principles and motor learning theories. She believes in a philosophy of empowerment which helps children believe in themselves and helps practitioners engage children as active participants in their learning. In addition to her work with SNAP, Dori has presented at numerous professional conferences, hospitals, clinics, and community centers in the U.S., Germany and Spain on the topic of pediatric aquatic therapy.


She has logged over 270 hours of professional instruction, teaching 45 professional courses since 1995. Subjects include water exercise for special populations, aquatic physical therapy for the child with cerebral palsy, aquatic therapy for children, developing pre-gait and gait skills, and more. She has been the author of several articles on special needs aquatic programs as well as the newsletter writer and publisher for “SNAP News” (1997-2001) and newsletter editor of the Association of Pediatric Therapist’s “APT Newsletter” (1996-2001). Additionally, she is a resource for manufacturers in equipment development advice for pediatric needs.


Dori Maxon has made a huge difference in the lives of many children with disabilities and their families. Her programs help the children shine, despite their disabilities. As spirits are encouraged and confidence builds, children can meet new challenges both in and out of the water. In addition to building the child’s spirit, her programs help to improve the child’s physical condition by addressing cardiovascular and respiratory fitness and flexibility.


Dori has received the 1999 Tsunami Award for creativity and innovation in aquatics and the Aquatic Therapy and Rehab Institute 2001 Professional of the Year Award.

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