As I mentioned in the most recent edition of This, That and The Other Thing, many autistic people are drawn to the water. Maybe it’s the sensory input it provides but it’s a bit like a moth to a flame. AWAARE (Autism Wandering Awareness Alerts Response Education) reports that between 2009 and 2011, 91% of accidental deaths in the autism community were due to drowning. Nate has always been attracted to water and it stops our heart as Nate can’t swim. So, when a spot opened up for Nate to get one-on-one special needs swim lessons, I signed him up immediately.
Today Nate had his second swimming lesson. In a nutshell? He loves to swim. He spends most of the lesson giggling and licking the water. (We’re not so sure what that’s about.) During Nate’s first lesson, we learned he’s not a natural swimmer; in fact, Nate sinks like a stone. Though his swim teacher doesn’t usually recommend it, Kelly suggested that Nate wear a puddle jumper to help naturally cultivate the skill of floating.
Nate’s lessons are a half-hour each. So that he’s ready to get down to business, we arrive a little early so Nate can play in the splash pool and have a little fun.
Then Nate hops into a dedicated lane of the pool and starts doing “laps.” Kelly pulls Nate up and down, up and down, up and down the lane so that he can get the sense of movement.
Either Chad or I join Nate and Kelly in the water to help manage one half of Nate’s body. Nate’s intuition is to swim like he’s walking — upright — so he thinks his feet should be at the bottom of the pool. To help him, Kelly pulls Nate and Chad manually pulls Nate’s legs to a floating position and kicks them for Nate. Nate tolerates this a lot more than I thought he would.
We’re trying to get Nate to blow bubbles in the water but, so far, he’s only interested in popping the bubbles that Kelly makes.
Nate tried swimming on his back. Not a fan but is glad for the free ride from Kelly.
He did a little unassisted swimming, too!
We have six more lessons and, by the end, I don’t anticipate that Nate will be a solo swimmer. But I do think that Nate will gain a little respect for the water and will have a solid foundation for future lessons. Oh! And he will have had a lot of fun, too!