Swimming Towards Summer

Many children love swimming. Mine are no exception.

Gabriel, since he is a true seeker, has loved water since before he could even say ‘water’. He spent hours in the backyard sprinkler, kiddie pool, hot tubs, bath tub, and shower and in every way he could, he attempted to become one with the water.

It came the time, that our schedule would allow (finally therapy appointments have slowed, and flexibility has increased, and Matthew has grown up – a little) for him and Nick to take swimming lessons. Matt too, but he had a cast at the time I signed them up, so we skipped his lessons (but I have signed him up for next session during the week while his brothers are at school, which promises to provide me with a plethora of blogging material).

We signed the boys up at the YMCA, through a regular group class, and off we went.

Today was the last in a six week series.

Yet the first I attended.


Because no matter how ‘grown up’ Matthew is at this point, he is still a true pain in the ass to take anywhere he has to wait and can’t follow his own agenda.

But Jeff is in China – or Korea – or maybe Japan now. Wherever he is, it isn’t here.

I prep Matthew with a numbered list of what steps come when (visual schedule), and make the plan for him to watch his brothers with ‘expected behavior’ before we return home. I can’t put Matt in the YMCA child care center because he has been kicked out so many times, it isn’t worth it. For either of us. So he comes with me.

He didn’t do too badly. And yet, he didn’t do so hot either.

Aside from throwing Rusty (from the Thomas series) into the pool – which Gabriel grabbed and tossed back – and then pinching my face, followed by slapping me across the face – he was an angel.

Is it bad form to scream at your kid and throw him in the pool at the Y (it was the shallow end, don’t be too scared)? Yeah, I thought so.

Instead of throwing him in the pool for pinching and slapping me, I gave him joint compressions, and squeezed him a bunch, and took the brunt of his ‘zerberts’ against my face (his ridiculous sensory seeking behavior that escalates as he does which makes me on the verge of a sensory meltdown of my own).

In the mean time, between Rusty's near drowning and surviving blows to my face (and ego), I watched the boys swim.

I was surprised to see that Gabriel’s motor planning issues are still as prevalent as they have been in the past.

Yes, they are considerably better than when we started OT nearly 5 years ago. But, still he had trouble.

He loves to swim, and just beams while he is in the water so it wasn’t as if other people would notice the trouble he had, but I did. I am hyper vigilant like that.

Gabriel takes everything so literal – ‘put your face in the water’, the instructor says, for a belly float. But Gabriel literally just puts his face in the water, not past his eyebrows – he doesn’t hold his head even with his body, as the instructor intended. He is my literal thinker for sure! But the teacher doesn’t notice this the same way I do. Which is just fine for YMCA swim lessons.

Nick won’t put his face in the water – tactile defensiveness – he HATES the feeling of water in his eyes, or god forbid, in his ears. That is a battle even in the shower. But he too did well.

Actually, they both love the water, but have no true swimming form.

My favorite part of the experience was being in the women's locker room (never mind the dirty looks over having my three boys in there) and watching a woman walk in with her two daughters.

The youngest girl, probably 4-5, immediately pinched her nose shut and began, "It stinks in here; let's leave!" Her mother acknowledged it and began moving quicker -- meltdown coming? Hmmmm.

Once their things were picked up, she handed the girl a sticky-wiggly-jelly-like substance in the shape of a large tarantula. Hmmmm. Fidget toy?

It is always reassuring to me that us SPD moms are everywhere. EVERYwhere. And I still have to genuinely hold back from yelling, "HEY! Does your kid have SPD! Awesome! So does mine!" Not everyone is as excited about SPD as I am.

The boys aren’t enrolled in swimming for next session because we are doing Flag Football.

Nick’s FAVORITE thing ever, he has done it for the last two seasons, and now Gabriel has decided to play.

I am a little leery about it – team sport, comparison to his peers, etc – but this is definitely something he is ready for in his own mind, and I truly think sometimes (at least as he gets older) he is the definitive decision maker on whether or not he can do something – he won’t let his acronyms define him.

And he has practiced a great deal with Nick, and had the opportunity to observe for two seasons. Both of those will probably help considerably!

They start Football on April 10th. I’ll keep their ‘stats’ here on my blog for all to see.

Spring Football season will take us to summer when Gabriel will be attending summer school – for sure – probably at the private school we are checking out over spring break.

I think he will be going there for summer school, even though we haven’t officially tried it yet, because I got Adoption Support to pay the cost of it ($1800).

Do you know what Adoption Support is?

If not, here is my plug for adopting from Foster Care (or at least one benefit):

When you adopt through foster care, your child can qualify for Adoption Support – which is financial help for the child through his/her lifetime in the way of services related to their special needs.

In Washington part of the criteria for qualifying is that the child has to be a minority, part of a sibling group, or have special needs (or all of the above in Gabriel’s case) to qualify, but when you do qualify (all negotiated by you -- attorneys are not normally used), you get medical coverage, and in some cases, can apply for and receive additional support.

I asked Adoption Support for help with care for Gabriel over the summer (last summer was AWFUL and I don't want to have a suicidal child on my hands again), and after they turned me down, I was able to give them more information and get the care covered. I literally cried when they told me we’d get the support.

Helping to keep Gabriel stabilized through summer is A TRUE GIFT for our entire family, not just Gabriel. But when I told Gabe that he would FOR SURE get to go to summer school (this is NOT camp), he jumped up and down in my office and shouted with delight, "Woo Hoo! Yes!" Complete with a fist pump.

So, as you might guess, I am excited about this school even if just for summer.

Hope you all are finding the sun, and maybe even getting to take a uncoordinated dip in the pool!


Stacey,momof 2 said...

I loved your comment "Hey are you an SPD mom also???" That made me laugh and smile... I guess it takes one to know one huh?
water in any form is my sons' best friend, when he was little we spent SO much time in the bathroom.

We are going to try swimming lessons again this summer-- Shane does well in the water, but the waiting for sister, or waiting of any kind is difficult!

Patty O. said...

I am jealous that it is warm enough by you to go swimming. Danny loves the water and it always calms him down. We are counting down til June when our pool will open (our town only has an outdoor one).

Kath said...

Hee hee! Yes, we SPD moms ARE everywhere, and we can peg each other from a mile away!!

I am proud of you for letting Gabriel participate in flag football... even though it's cause for holding our maternal breath, isn't it? So far my 9-yr-old Aspie/SPD/apraxic son has done very well jumping into activities HE insists he wants to try. And there I am on the sideline, turning blue for lack of oxygen!