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Swimming upstream

Like most parents I think my children are amazing.Not in a “they’re perfect/the next Einstein” kind of way, (they are plainly NOT), it’s small, quiet, awe of their burgeoning personalities and abilities. It might surprise some of you that in general it is Jacob that evokes the biggest feelings of delight in me, after all he stopped meeting conventional milestones in his first year. His milestones are more millimetre-stones, and I have to confess that I have absolutely no idea what an “average” child of his age “should” be doing. I stopped looking at the lists of should-be-able-tos a long long time ago in favour of my own book of his achievements.

Fed up of six-monthly development checks by the paediatrician when he was scored against a chart, I started my own book in which I wrote down all the new things he had done that month and what his favourite activities were. This was my happy book, something that allowed me to celebrate my son in the face of an outside world that was smacking me in the face with all the things he couldn’t do.

Look at all the things he could do!

Look at all the things he could do!

I wrote this book for a long while, eventually abandoning it a year ago when his development was being more comprehensively (and professionally) recorded by his SN nursery. In a way this book was a saviour of my sanity, it showed me that he was making progress, this  made me feel more positive and allowed me to move towards acceptance.

Now we set our own challenges for Jacob, one of which was that I wanted him to be able to start school and have one skill that he would be able to equal his peers in. I decided that this would be swimming. This wasn’t for arbitrary reasons; living near the coast it is an essential life skill, he loves water and I had taken him swimming since he was a baby. His Waterbabies lessons were so inclusive and have left him very confident in water. So, secretly in my head, I decided that by the time he started school I wanted him to be able to swim on his own, with or without armbands.

Making this aim a reality was harder to get going that I imagined. There was no NHS water based therapy available for him despite it being in his physio plan, because he has independent movement. The local leisure centre wouldn’t have him in a group lesson because he needed an instructor in the water with him and so the only option was to pay for him to have 1 to 1 lessons. This is expensive (thank heavens for the DLA money enabling us to give Jacob things that every other child can easily access) and as a result he only goes every other week. Even so, his progress has been amazing. This is despite the fact that the whole sensory experience of the pool is often overwhelming for him, the presence of other children is distracting and exciting and the fact that physical tasks are extremely hard for him. He is almost there:

His swimming instructor loves him and often swims with him for well over the time we’ve paid for

Last week he swam a whole length of a 20m metre pool on his back.

This week he swam 4 lengths of the pool AND his instructor took him down to just 1 ring arm band on each arm.

Jacob the Fish

Jacob the Fish

Our biggest boy is almost swimming without any flotation aids at all and who knows, come September he may not just be equalling his peers he may have passed them by, something I never thought I’d say!


11 thoughts on “Swimming upstream

  1. Well done Jacob, we also love to swim. At the moment we can go to the mother and baby groups, I have no idea how we will continue when Ethan is past 5 as I won’t be able to go in with him. I love that you wrote everything in a book, this is why I blog, its to capture all the good times. I really loved this post, it really made me smile.

    Thanks for linking up with Small Steps Amazing Achievements :0)

    • Thank you. Jacob ad I did baby swimming from when he was 5 months old. It definitely helped his water confidence and gave him a head start. My younger son who was a early developer and has no disability is not as confident or as skilled as Jacob in the water because he didn’t get that early exposure.

    • Thank you, I am proud he is doing so well and importantly he just loves it.
      You must look into DLA, it is a godsend for helping out with the extra costs: all the fuel for appointments, all the chewed and ruined clothes etc. etc.

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