Many Autistic kids have an attraction to water. David is no exception.
Swimming is very calming for our sensory seeker. The problem with that is David also does not understand the danger that comes with water.
He has no fear. He will run towards the sight of water at any given opportunity.
Unfortunately, many statistics out there state that drowning is the number one cause of death in kids with Autism.
We have always enjoyed seeing the joy on David’s face when he’s in the water, but we’ve never been able to effectively teach him to swim or water safety for that matter.
He doesn’t like water on his face.
He would not hold his breath or go under water.
He cannot swim on his own yet, but doesn’t want to be held in the water. He wants to be free.
A little over a month ago, David started private one on one swim lessons with a local swim school that provides specialized, one-on-one lessons for those with disabilities and special needs.
We told his instructor our goal for this semester was two main things; one was teaching him how to hold his breath to be able to go under water, and the second was for him to be able to paddle, some way some how, to the side of the pool where he can’t touch to be able to get to safety, if needed.
In the first lesson, she had him going under water and holding his breath. Only a few times did he get some water in his mouth. He did need to wipe his face after every time, as the water on his face was.. simply unacceptable.
By the second lesson, he was calmly floating on his back (with her assistance). Something he’d never let us do.
Last week, he was walking his hands along the wall of the deep side, bobbing his head under water at the instruction of his teacher. He was also paddling to her in short distances, going under water occasionally in the middle of the pool – completely unphased, like it was nothing. No request to wipe his face, nothing.
We are absolutely amazed at the approach she takes with him. She has a way of getting him to trust her, yet pushing him out of his comfort zone just enough to be effective and make gains.
We are so thankful for this program, and for the amazing teacher we were matched up with. David now counts down during the week, how many more days until “swim teacher” – and he knows when he wakes up that morning what day it is.
He gets something to be excited about and feel joy, and we get the peace of knowing he’s gaining a safety skill that could save his life one day.
WIN. AND. WIN.