Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Learning to Swim

Sweet Pea has been enrolled in swim class since right after she turned 3 in March.  She started in the beginning class with up to 4 typical peers in the class with her.  She was doing a good job of listening and following directions in this class and she went through the session 3 times doing better every time.  I even had it in my head that after one more session there was a chance she would graduate to the next level.  That is when things went wrong.  I'm not sure what caused the change...a new teacher, new kids, summer's erratic schedule wearing on her, etc...but something went wrong.  For the first time in about 20 classes she refused to get in the water and then when we got her in the water she screamed the whole time until the teacher brought her over to me to take her home.  The next class was a little better, but from that point on she was requiring one on one assistance in the class and was still whining and fighting many activities. 

Immediately following this second bad day of class Sweet Pea had her first adaptive swim lesson.  It's a program that we are so blessed to have offered by our local recreation and parks department.  She did stellar!  She had a great teacher and Sweet Pea ate her up and had a blast.  The teacher showed her typical swim class teacher some of her tricks, but the typical class never got a ton better.  We probably should have just pulled her from that class, but mommy is stubborn and I want her to be with her peers when possible.

The weekend following her last swimming class with her peers she began private lessons with a high school student that was teaching kids with Down syndrome to swim for her Girl Scout Gold Award project.  For 30 minutes every weekend we would meet her for lessons at a hotel pool that had donated their facilities.  The first 6 weeks of lessons went horribly!  I finally asked if I could get in with her and the student teacher said that many of the other families were doing that and were having siblings swim too.  Since the hotel had asked for us not to do that I had never thought of doing it, but we were desperate for the lessons to not be a waste of everyone's time and so we started bringing Angel.  The lessons got better from that point on, but far from good.  We saw a little improvement in her abilities during the series of lessons, but not nearly what I had hoped for.  Sweet Pea is a tough girl to figure out!

This month we were able to start the adaptive swim lessons up again and although she has a different teacher, it is her original teacher from the typical peer class that she loved.  The classes are going a lot better again and she is doing most of the activities that are being requested of her...eventually.  As you will see in this video she certainly tries to direct the lesson and gets away with it a fair amount, but considering she still does most of the requested tasks when she is ready, I can't argue.  To hear Sweet Pea ask to go swimming in the "little pool with A***" makes me grin ear to ear.  We are going to try to get Sweet Pea enrolled in A***'s typical swim class coming up, but it fills up extremely quickly so I don't know if we will succeed.  I'm anxious to see if she make that will because I know that she can, it's just a matter of will...participate in that class again.  I really, really, really hope so!

This video was taken on Saturday morning.  I was distracting her a great deal more than I expected so I will be much farther from the pool this weekend, but I wanted to capture some of what she was doing.  I am also going to share with her OTs and PTs that I'd like their help in getting her "big arms" to be reciprocating and...bigger.  There is another mom in town that would like to see the adaptive swim program be lead by a PT and I think that would be fabulous, but I doubt it will happen.  In the meantime I can try to meld the two outside of the pool as we have great therapists who are always interested in knowing what Sweet Pea is doing in the real world and things that they can help with.


  1. Wow I think she did great, she has great coordination and good balance walking across the pool with her steering wheel

  2. This is a very cute video. My daughter is actually learning to swim as well. I actually tried experimenting with an interactive ebook that teaches young children how to swim. It was ranked as one of the best educational apps for kids. It was also quite effective. It gave her enough confidence to jump in the pool without me having to tell her too.