I have recently been working with several new special needs clients and some of their parents have had comments/questions that left me thinking. After speaking with these parents, I realized that other parents most likely have similar thoughts and would benefit from knowing that they are not alone.
Here are just a few of the thoughts/questions that may run through a parent’s head : Can my child do it? Will my child scream the whole lesson? Will my child make a dash for the door? Will my child throw a huge tantrum getting in the water? Will my child have a full on meltdown transitioning out of the water? Will my child kick, hit, or bite the instructor? Will it be more difficult for my child than a neurotypical child ? And the answer to all of these questions could be YES or NO on any given day with any given child. I know these questions first hand and YES- I have seen these behaviors.
In the last couple of years I have been asked many times how I came to place a big focus on teaching children with special needs swimming and water safety. It is because of the Yes to those questions above.
As a parent of a child with special needs, I know how anxious a parent can be about swim lessons for the first time, with a new instructor, or at a new pool. Sure every parent wants their child to succeed and every parent worries, but I know firsthand what is like to have to drag your 6 year old child kicking, thrashing, and screaming out of the swim lesson pool because he who didn’t want to get in the water now can’t transition out of the water. I know what is like to have a teen-aged swim instructor reprimand your son for not knowing what to do next or because he just likes to bob continuously up and down in the water. I know what it is like to have a child whose motor planning issues make it very difficult to coordinate arms and legs in a swim stroke. Oh my, the list could go on, but that in a nutshell is why I am passionate about teaching swimming to those with special needs -especially children with sensory issues and/or on the autism spectrum. I want the parents of my special needs clients to know I GET IT because I live it.
I can't say I have the answer or secret to get every child to swim, but I can say I won’t give up on your child. I will work with you to make swim lessons as rewarding and as pleasurable as possible for you and your child.