Monday, August 13, 2012

Tackling fears

My daughter has ALWAYS had a major fear of water. Bath time was even a struggle. She wouldn't be in water without being held onto TIGHTLY and you weren't allowed to adjust your hold or move at all!

This summer we decided because we live in a place that provides a pool to all the house residents, that we could tackle this fear of water with a specialist. We enlisted a Red Cross lifeguard who had experience with special needs kids, especially autistic children.

We do three sets of sessions over the summer, each session has 10 lessons.

Session 1: She was in with a little boy who LOVED the water, loved the deep end and loved messing around, being the center of attention! She barely got in the water that whole session. It felt like a waste. But then on the times we would bring her to the pool with us, not for lessons, if her instructor was there, her instructor would take her break and get in the pool with A. A flourished with that one on one attention and slowly began to trust her instructor and very slowly started to feel safe in the water!

Session 2, was a complete 180 from session 1. E, the instructor & the other girl that held lessons at the same time as her, had spoken with the woman in charge of booking the lessons, and they had decided that given A's situation, it would be best to do 1 on 1 lessons. The woman in charge had seen E in the pool working with A on one of her breaks one day and agreed that based on what she had seen in lessons vs what she saw 1 on 1, that A needed 1 on 1 lessons, so they set it up. Session 2 went amazingly well! She went from not even getting into the pool to jumping in, dunking, swimming assisted, swimming unassisted with a floatation device and swimming unassisted without a floatation device for small distance. She was jumping in the deep end. Would walk the diving board but not jump it. She even progressed to no floatation device MOST of the time.

Today we started session 3 & we progressed so far that she jumped 6 times off the diving board with her teacher helping!!! The first jump wasn't happening, and considering this was the beginning of week 7 and she kept wanting to but then getting scared, we did something many parents would frown upon! If you do, you may want to stop reading. I don't want to hear the criticism I know MANY parents and non parents alike would frown upon! We let the teacher take hold of her and safely jump off the diving board. Yes she was scared but by the time she came up from the water she had a HUGE smile on her face & was SOOOOOOO proud that she had did proud that she did it 5 more times after that, still assisted but 5 times by HER OWN CHOICE!

She's no longer afraid of the pool! She's made major progress and has progress OUT of preschool swimming in just 6 weeks....well really 5 because she missed the first week of swim lessons!

There were many times when she wanted to give up during the first session! Many times where she said "I can't do this" during the second session, but with the encouragement, she persevered and session 3 is here and shes doing AMAZING!!!

She's tackled her fear of water and although she still won't play any of the splashing games, she's doing amazing and we are so proud of our Autistic Princess!!!

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