In The Deep End – Learning to swim
My eldest who is now 6, had done swimming lessons from mid last year, to the beginning of this year. He loved it. Followed instruction pretty well. But couldn’t focus or hold on to wait his turn as the instructor taught the other 2 children in his group. It was very disruptive as I felt the other children weren’t getting their lessons because the instructor was too busy correcting my child.
Our lessons sadly ended as my youngest, who at the time he was only 2, was terrified of the water.
My youngest has some sensory issues, and unless he has full control on what’s happening to him, he can’t handle it and cries and tries to get away.
It’s not the first time large masses of water has scared him. For his 2nd birthday we went to the beach. Seeing the waves come in scared him enough to not want to go near it, and he literally stood in the hot sand crying for an hour before we gave in and went home. It wasn’t the kind of beach visit I had in mind at all.
In the pool it’s a different kind of story, it is peaceful enough, but because he can not touch the bottom, it gave him that feeling of not being able to control the situation, dangling in the water, while being held and wavered around by a parent or a instructor terrified him. The moment we walked into the change rooms to get into our bathers it would start. He would start whimpering. Getting nervous and as we came out to the pool he would scream.
The last lesson my husband got so badly scratched up, as our son objected to being in the pool, we decided it was for the best that we just stop until he seemed ready to try again.
Over the year we noticed our youngest had no issues being in the bath. For starters he had control over what happened in the bath, he could touch the bottom. He didn’t mind having water splashed on him, it was obviously a much more smaller mass of water. He seemed content.
Over the year I had slowly shown him how to kick in the bath, sure my floors in there was always covered in water by the end of the bath, but he started to pick up that kicking in water was fun!
He started splashing his big brother, who only joined in and splashed back.
He started to become a lot braver in the water, he started to lay back and let the water pass his ears. And he seemed, relaxed. I knew he was ready to try again.
Recently the local pool has started an Inclusion program for special needs children. Naturally I rang up straight away and put my 2 boys down for lessons.
We went for the try out free lesson. This way we knew if the boys were ready, and the instructors could determine if they needed one on one lessons or if they could be put into a mainstream group.
We entered the change rooms. My youngest seemed nervous as we put him in his bathers. As we walked into the main pool area, he started to cry, I started to feel like this may of been a mistake. We had arrived a few minutes early, so sat down and waited for our instructors to arrive. My youngest sat in my lap, gnawing away at his fingers, which is what he does when he is anxious. I gently stroked his back to try and calm him down a little.
The instructors came and got in the pool. The 2 boys had the entire pool to themselves which was great. My eldest couldn’t wait to get in.
My youngest cried, and needed to be pulled to sit on the edge, the instructor splashed him a little as he sat, and after a few minutes she pulled him in with her and held him. He clung to her for dear life and was very anxious judging by his face.
Meanwhile the eldest is kicking water and dunking his head under the water, no worries, having a fantastic time.
As the lesson went on my youngest started to ease on his grip and the instructor was slowly trying out pool toys, foam noodles and squeezy toys. By the end of the lesson he started to laugh, even kick a little, and come away from the instructor and be pulled around by his hands, being supported by only a noodle, he also drank half the pool.
It was beautiful to see, and he seemed so happy.
My eldest did so well that they are thinking of slipping into a mainstream group, with the watchful eye of one of the inclusion program instructors. The ability to let him relax and do what he likes while learning, improves his willingness to comply.
They are still in talks on what they can do for my youngest, but I think they will decide the one on one time would be best for him in order to slowly develop at his own rate.
It’s a mini triumph for this mummy. And such a great idea to have such a good program in place. I honestly can’t wait until we can start more regularly.