I’m enrolling D in swimming lessons again this summer and I can’t wait. His gross motor skills have improved since last year and I have read articles in the past about how swimming promotes and improves cognitive and speech abilities in kids on the spectrum. I’m a believer after last summer.
D loves water. Initially, I was only thinking about safety when I enrolled him at Emler Swim School. He will run straight into a pool given the chance and in Texas, it seems like everyone has one. I never learned to swim so I couldn’t teach him myself, but I at least wanted to give him the opportunity to learn.
The first lesson could have went either way. D couldn’t get in the water fast enough but once he figured out the bottom of the pool was further away than he was tall, he panicked. He crawled out of the pool the first chance he got, ran over to me, put his flip flops on and tried to pull me out of the pool area. I knew he wasn’t going to get back in without some serious coaxing. I reassured him as much as I could and asked him to sit back down on the ledge, the instructor was able to pick him up and he held onto her like a koala. They were both in the pool and she was walking away from the ledge when she started singing to him. If there’s anything D loves as much as water it’s music.
By the time the first session was over she had him in a floating position. He wasn’t floating of course but he was able to relax his body enough to where she could hold him using one hand. The rest of the lessons didn’t always go so smoothly. When they started having him jump into the pool he didn’t want to leave. He’s had his fair share of full-blown meltdowns at Emler.
Toward the end of his swimester D was assigned a new instructor – a young man, D clicked with him like they were old pals. There wasn’t anything particular about how he asked him to do things, D just responded to him extremely well.
The same kid who was uncomfortable when too much water splashed in his face, could hold his breath underwater for five seconds at the end of summer. He could also kick and propel himself forward four feet. The same kid was also using his PECS cards regularly to request things. My kid.
Of course I wasn’t thinking about how much he was benefiting from these lessons when he was mid-meltdown. It’s tough when you’re in the thick of it but I would do it all over again for him.