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A Phone Call Brings Good News

January 19, 2010

For the last four years, we have been doing our best to help Chipmunk learn to swim.  This has not been easy.  Initially, he was in the beginners group at the local leisure centre.  The lesson lasted for 30 minutes every Saturday, and with between 10 and 15 children in the class, he only managed to walk across the pool a couple of times before it was time to come out.

The next thing we tried was private lessons.  Held at a pool almost an hour away and at £18 a session (half an hour) we thought this would get results.  He had lessons there for a year.  One-to-one lessons – sometimes even two instructors and him.  Despite his instructor being very nice, Chipmunk was no further forward when we finally decided to end the lessons than when we started.  In fact, the one and only time he showed any enjoyment at being there was when another instructor filled in for the regular guy.  He just connected with Chipmunk in a way that I have rarely seen.  He would spin Chipmunk around in the water, singing to him and playing games.  Chipmunk adored him.  We never saw him after that.  After almost a year, at the end of the money and with Chipmunk pitching a fit every time swimming day came around, we gave in and ended the lessons.

Bear in mind here, that all of this occurred before Chipmunk received his diagnosis of Asperger’s.  Or, in fact, any of his many diagnoses!  While we were aware that there was something going on with him, we didn’t know what it was.  Maybe things would have been different had we known, but I guess that’s something we will never find out now!

Anyway, from that time onwards, Chipmunk’s contact with the swimming pool was limited to me taking him down there every so often and forcing him into the water!  And the occasional dip in the rare event of us going on holiday!

So much for our plan to have him swimming and get him a head start before the school swimming lessons started!  These lessons started last year, when he entered Year 1, and finished last term – the first term in Year 2.  I went along to help them out with Chipmunk – he cannot change himself, nor dry himself off.  Also, he hates the feeling of walking on the tiles at the pool, and struggles getting in and out on his own.  I figured they might appreciate some help!

His instructor was lovely, and he actually got along with her very well.  Despite the fact that she is very…loud, I guess would be the word – not the sort of person Chipmunk is usually drawn to – he really liked her.  Even so, it took her all the way up until three weeks before lessons were due to end to achieve any real results.  Then, all of a sudden, he decided he trusted her enough to do as she asked.  He put his face into the water for the first time ever.  Then, he decided that as all the other children were ducking under to pick up rubber rings, he was going to try it too.  Suddenly, hanging on to the parent who was helping in the pool, he disappeared under the water!  His teacher looked at me in amazement, a big soppy grin on her face.  Then, with her encouragement, he began to gently lower himself into the water, and drag himself out again!

My only regret?  That this sudden and vast improvement came at the end of the school swimming sessions!

Since then, I have been casting around for somewhere for him to go swimming.  I am going to take him once a week myself, but as I can’t swim I can’t really teach him!  (I am starting lessons again myself next week).  Instead, we are going to use the time in the pool to familiarise him with the water again and to do the exercises that the physio has recommended for him.  I had no luck, until yesterday, when a bolt of inspiration suddenly hit me.  Yes, it does happen occasionally!

Locally, we have a swimming group for disabled people of all ages.  I was unsure whether this was a teaching group or whether you had to be able to swim beforehand.  Praying that it was the former, I called the lady in charge.  No answer.  I left a message, and this afternoon she called me back.  The news was better than I could possibly have hoped for!

  • Yes, the club is a teaching club;
  • Yes, he is eligible;
  • It provides one-on-one teaching for at least half of the session (which lasts one hour in total);
  • It only costs £2 a time (plus a £10 membership fee per year);
  • The group has exclusive use of the leisure centre pool for the session;
  • It does not break for school holidays, but runs year-round;
  • I am able to go into the pool with him;
  • They are very much looking forward to meeting him – are we able to start next week?

Are we able to start next week? Yes, Yes, YES!!!

7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2010 19:05

    Yay! I’m beaming for you two 🙂 Good luck, Chipmunk! Go get ‘em! (And good luck to you, too. I grew up in Michigan and despite never living more than 100 km from a major body of water, I cannot swim either.)

    • bubbleboo permalink
      January 20, 2010 00:50

      Aww, thanks David. Hey, if I can learn then anyone can – why not take lessons?! 😀

  2. tndaisy1960 permalink
    January 20, 2010 00:21

    Good for both of you! It’s so nice when things actually work out, isn’t it? 🙂

    • bubbleboo permalink
      January 20, 2010 00:49

      It is indeed! I am hoping this will be the breakthrough he needs as far as swimming is concerned!

  3. January 20, 2010 02:25

    YYYYYESS!!! Love it when good things happen.

    • bubbleboo permalink
      January 20, 2010 13:38

      Haha! Me, too – let’s hope we’re on a roll this time!


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