This has been in my thoughts all week
Door closes, door opens

There go the swimming lessons

I just spoke to the director of the swim program through which Charlie has been taking lessons. They don't feel equiped -- as I noted, they should not have felt they needed to be, as they are not a swim program for autistic children -- to teach Charlie, and certainly not handle his behaviors. So yesterday's lesson was Charlie's last.

When the teacher told him not to "jump in the pool" at Wednesday's lesson, Charlie -- maybe from thymic distress? maybe because of just hearing the word "don't"? -- grabbed at her and then banged his head on the pool rail. And then it was a difficult moment of running out of the pool area; grabbing onto the really nice man who knows Charlie because he's a swim instructor at Charlie's school and works at the pool in the evenings; sitting crying and moaning on a gym mat I found and threw on the ground. Charlie sat there for five minutes and then, sniffling, got into the pool with the teacher. He didn't swim at all, just moved back and forth in the water; he cheered up a little. 

I had a feeling as we left, after observing things, that we might not last much longer in this swim program. Had the director not called me, I was planning to write to them and let them know, if they didn't feel that their program was appropriate for Charlie -- again, it's not a program for kids with disabilities -- we understand.

We're glad Charlie got what he did out of the program. I've gained some more insights about the challenges of having him taught by those who don't have the background and familiarity with autistic kids and with teeagers and adults in particular. I feel good that Charlie did what he could and that the program director could speak to me about their concerns. 

Aside from issues of a behavioral sort, one thing that I suspect can be challenging is the rate and way that Charlie learns. He had some great moments of swimming all over the pool, showing how he can swim on his back, kick and use his arms. But Charlie has always been something more than inconsistent in his learning: One day, BAM! He'll do everything you ask and more. Then, POUF, and he seems disinclined to do anything and some of those danged "behaviors" crop up. Perhaps there was the feeling that they "couldn't teach him" because they didn't seem him "progressing" in some ways, whereas we knew he was doing something good by just managing in the lessons and trying to follow the teacher's instructions.

With us, it'll always be about not perfection, but progress.


Judy T

It's hard having to be so "grown up" and reasonable about these things. I'm very glad that Charlie got some positives out of the experience, and that he was able to go for as long as he did; I hope that rather than writing it off as something they should never have undertaken, the facility considers the possibility that maybe, they should be expanding their services so that the next time someone like Charlie wants lessons, they WILL be equipped to provide him with the services he needs!

Kristina Chew

thanks, Judy---I had to fill out a lot of forms prior to signing Charlie up and I did my best to spell out his behaviors, plus I spoke at length to the director. I'm sure they have to worry about insurance and such, too. Time and again, people think they can handle things with him but then decide they can't when they see things; my only regret is that they didn't apply a bit more of the principle of "waiting it out and working through," which is key with Charlie.

We are getting a refund! It wasn't worth fighting this one.

Judy T

I never get that part - they seem either not to believe parents when we tell them about the "issues" that are likely to show up, or they think that they are "magic" and will somehow not encounter them, and then they run at the first little thing. Do they think that we (parents) are totally incompetent, and that they (strangers to our children, who don't deal well with newness and unfamiliarity) will make no mistakes with our kids? Do they think that we are making it all up? I "hear" the fatigue in your post, and you have my sympathy and support. Hang in there. There's something about this time of year ...

Happy Mother's Day!

Kristina Chew

Yes, it was really frustrating! I even used words like "severe" to describe Charlie.

In the conversation with the director, I kept saying "we know WE are responsible for Charlie and WE know how to deal with his behaviors." I emphasized that of course we'd always be present with Charlie at something like a swimming lesson.

Of course, there's a small irony in that here we were with all those people who I guess were thinking they had no idea what they'd do if Charlie were having a 'behavioral storm' and here I am, the smallest of all of them, and I'm the one who knows what to do..... but I'm the mom, ha.

Yes, Happy Mother's Day! (not said with any sort of cynicismJ)

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