My Son Conquered His Fear!!
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I am so excited about this I am sharing it with everyone I know. This was a huge moment but I have to share the background to show how huge this was. I started writing and this got very long, sorry for that, but I am in tears with how excited I am!
In 2007, my DS was 4 1/2 and was in the school summer childcare program 3x a week. They always went swimming on Friday and my son had been struggling to learn how to swim. He is high-functioning autistic and he would panic when trying to float. We had him in lessons since he was a baby, but he never got it. Well, on one of the swim days he was right next to a teacher and she turned around for 1/2 a second to look at another child and my son slipped down into the deeper water. He was only under water for a second or two, but when they pulled him out he vomited for about 20 minutes. We took him to the hospital for observation and everything was fine. Well, almost everything, he was terrified of the pool now.
I took him the next day to a different pool and he did get in, but clung to me or the wall. This went on for months. I found a highly rated swim school that focuses on drowning prevention and we enrolled him. Sadly as he was starting to make progress another parent made a very rude comment regarding my daughter (she has pdd-nos and her googles broke, which caused her to have a meltdown and the parent was very rude and snotty). I talked to the school and their solution was to move my kids to a later class. This didn't work for us, because the school was near the kids school but 30 minutes from our house. The later class made us wait 2 hours before lessons where previously we went right after school. The owner was terrible when we asked to cancel and it left a bad taste in our mouth. I planned to switch to a school closer to home (that the old school bad mouthed constantly).
In February 2011, I signed him up with the new school in private lessons. I figured this would help him by having the teachers attention the full class period. Our goal was to have him comfortable in the water and floating before our Disneyland trip in October 2011. The teacher was wonderful, even when Hunter had full meltdowns and screamed through half the lesson (he would get very frustrated when the teacher pushed him, which was necessary). By October he could swim short distances but was still fearful of the deep water.
In December we moved to a small town out of state and he was out of the water till this summer. Up till today he played in the water up to 4 feet deep but I could see that he could swim for about 1/2 the length of the pool with no problem. Still he wouldn't venture to the deep water. Today I was reading a book, looked up and tried to find him. I couldn't find him right off and looked for my DD, and saw them both next to the wall in the 13-foot deep end! Then they got out of the pool and headed to the low dive.
It took DS a lot of encouragement but he finally sat on the side of the board and slid into the water. Then he went again and stood up and jumped in. Right then was pool break and we were planning to head home, but I had to stay to let him do it some more. After pool break he decided to try the high dive. It took him about 10 minutes standing at the top with the whole pool cheering him on and he finally jumped. He loved it! When he jumped the entire pool erupted in a huge cheer. You would have thought he just won a Gold Medal!
I am so darn proud of him. This has been a 5 year road since he nearly drowned and I can't believe he did it! I don't know what clicked with him today, but he is so happy as well! He loves going off the diving boards and spent the next hour doing nothing but that. Tomorrow he said he might try some tricks. Heaven help us.
Here he is on the first try off the low dive:
Here he is jumping off the low dive (BTW, that is my DD on the high dive):
That is absolutely fan freakin tastic!!! I am so very excited for all of you but especially for your DS's accomplishment. Having an ASD 9yo DS I can truly appreciate the gravity of what happened today. May today be the footstep needed toward a wonderful new journey and adventure. I am so very, very happy for you. Truly.
Huzzah! That's awesome, I'm glad he finally got past his (all too understandable) fear.
I was bit by a dog when I was three ... and even though I've not a hint of autism myself? I was knee-knockingly afraid of medium and large dogs who showed the slightest aggression (or who looked at all German Shepherd-ish, as that's what bit me) for the next twelve or fifteen years. Honestly, even at age 41, I'm still very cautious around dogs larger than a cocker spaniel. So I know very well how hard it must have been for him to overcome his fear of deep-water immersion!!
Also, kudos to the other folks at the pool, for the encouragement and the cheers. A little positive social experience in and of itself, yes?
From left to right:
Myself, Cinderella, Jeremy, and Krisna.
I wish I'd been there to see that. I could just feel the excitement climb through your story. We belong to a pool where we've found that members to be very supportive of the kids too. I could well imagine just that same scenario play out here.
Congratulations to your son! And to you for working so hard for that moment!
What an uplifting story. I think sometimes it just takes time. My older son refused to put a foot in the kiddie pool when he first went at 18 months, much to the frustration of my ex. I attributed it to a not very good baby and me swim class where infants were submerged.
I don't know what happened but a few years later he developed a love for the water and became great swimmer. He spent his high school and college years working as a life guard and swim instructor. I remember him at 10 or 11 getting into tricks (rolls, back drives, flips, etc) from the 3 meter board and me spending a lot of time holding my breath.