All kids must learn to swim

25 June 2015

Dear friend,

Our journey to get the big lad swimming has been a very long and at times difficult one that started when he was five. We live in Holland, a land that is literally sinking, there is water everywhere. I wanted both the boys to be able to swim as I had a fear of water when I was younger. Now as a mum, I had a huge fear that one of my boys would end up at the bottom of a canal.

Most children at school were starting swim lessons at five. A friend advised that we enrol the big lad in a special group at the local pool that gave more intensive lessons with smaller groups of children. We knew that he would be lost in a large group and were prepared to pay the extra cost. As the course came to the end the instructor had a quiet word with hubby. He wasn’t going to make it! Not only that but he didn’t think he would cope in a ‘normal’ swimming lesson group.




These are the hardest times as a special needs parent. The big lad was completely devastated that he wouldn’t receive his diploma like the other kids. Sometimes you just don’t know where to go next, who to turn to or what to do for the best. Wait another year and then try again, find a different group or stop? I decided to contact the Dr that the big lad had seen for his motor skills assessment and ask his advice.
The next battle began as officially he wasn’t ‘bad enough’ to be seen by them. My argument was clear; Ok, he’s not good enough for the ‘normal’ group but not bad enough for you. He falls into this no mans land! So where do we go because we need help?! After a long and quite heated discussion he offered to arrange some one on one sessions with a physiotherapist in their pool.

I found it extremely difficult to sit and watch every week. The therapists were unbelievably patient and understanding but something inside of me just snapped and I would come home and cry tears of frustration and anger that our son had to struggle so much to achieve such basic things that other children took for granted.
I feel selfish and ridiculous writing this now but at the time these were my feelings, despite seeing many children with significantly worse problems at the therapy centre. My mum constantly points out that he could be a lot worse but it doesn’t help! Oh, your kid broke his leg, well my friends sons fell off. Sorry it doesn’t make me feel better, I just feel bad for your friends son as well! I was drowning in my emotions (excuse the pun) so at this point my darling hubby took over.

I am unbelievably lucky that hubby and I can be an emotional tag team. Sometimes I struggle, sometimes he does. We don’t make each other feel guilty. We just know when to step up to the plate. Every special needs parent needs that at times.

The physiotherapist was able to recommend another swimming group that catered for special needs children and he began attending weekly lessons there. But once a week wasn't enough! Another friend recommended a swimming group on Saturday mornings for special needs children. In all honesty I wasn’t sure about this group. Why? Because big lad's needs aren't 'that bad'. I wasn’t sure how he would fit in or how he would react around children with more severe problems. We hadn’t even mentioned the word Autism to him at this point. Wouldn't he wonder why he was there?

In hindsight, my worries were totally ridiculous. This group is amazing. Run by caring, patient, wonderful people. He started receiving trophies and certificates to celebrate the small steps he had made. The first time we were invited to watch a session, I was amazed with how much progress the big lad had made, and how happy, comfortable and confident he was. He was failing no more!



The big lad is 8 years and 11 months. It has taken almost 4 years to get him to, the point where he is ready to try for his swimming diploma. I am immensely proud of my darling boy for never giving up. I must admit that there were times when I thought we would never make it.

Would you bloody believe it that 4 days before swimming certificate day he came down with a cold. I hope you are well enough for wednesday because you've worked so hard, I told him and his response as every amazed me. Even if I am not 100% I am still going to go and give it my best shot! And he did...









There were plenty of tears but as my big lad explained; mummy had to cry as she was so so proud of me.


HE DID IT! Not just one diploma but two.


I wish I could go back to the beginning of this experience and give myself some advice; to relax and have faith that he will always get there in the end but to let him set his own tempo and to never compare his journey with that of neurotypical friends. 
If you liked this post then please feel free to share on social media or drop me a comment. Thank you!

24 comments

  1. I just love this story - thank you so much for sharing it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, really honoured that you read my little blog. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment.

      Delete
  2. What a brilliant post to share, and what an achievement for your boy. I hope his achievement gives you confidence for the future. x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for hosting! I am sure he will achieve whatever he sets his mind to. I really appreciate your support.

      Delete
  3. Congratulations for his (and yours) achievements. I loved the story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Anca. He showed his certificates at school today. Just the confidence boost he needed. So glad you enjoyed the story and thanks for commenting!

      Delete
  4. Ah what an inspiration story, well done Mario for not giving up you must be so proud of him and are an amazing Mum for battling on against the odds xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sarah but I can't take the credit my hubby put in many hours to get him there. He really is An imperfect mum inspiration. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

      Delete
  5. I love your raw honesty. Thanks for allowing us to follow your journey with you. You offer many life lessons along the way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Yes that raw honesty has got me into trouble at times. ;-)

      Delete
  6. I can't imagine how you must have felt watching your son struggle. You went to a lot of trouble to make sure he learned to swim. And for every good reason, it's such an important safety issue. Good for you for working so hard to give him the opportunity to learn. And good for you for raising a little boy who was determined enough to keep working hard and achieve that goal! #happydays

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He's my inspiration!
      Mario wants to continue with lessons until he has achieved the c diploma. I'm so proud of him.
      Thank you for reading and your lovely comment.

      Delete
  7. Amazing story - well done, Mario!

    I'm so glad you found the help and support you all needed to get Mario swimming.

    Thanks for joining in with our #HappyDaysLinky

    Jenna at Tinyfootsteps xx

    ReplyDelete
  8. A fantastic achievement for Mario and what a journey you've had to travel to get him there. I totally understood and agreed with your frustrations.
    Your last paragraph is so true, it's something I've thought so many times.
    Thanks for linking up with #SSAmazingAchievements

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is so lovely!! I am so pleased for him! Thanks for joining in #HappyDaysLinky x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Katy, it seemed like the perfect post to link up to Happy Days.

      Delete
  10. Thank you for sharing this story. I have been taking Ethan to swimming lessons since he was two and a half. He turned five in May and we have just joined the special needs swimming group. I really hope when he is 8, he has made the same progress as your son. What an amazing young man #SSAmazingAchievements

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Jane. Good luck on your journey & keep the faith that your little man will get there too! Thanks for reading & your lovely comment.

      Delete
  11. Ugh - I so dread that no man's land! I'm glad you were able to arrange an awesome experience after your frustrations, and that you were able to get some respite for your emotions! I hope you get to enjoy lots of swimming practice to keep up those skills!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He got to show off his skills on holiday. We couldn't keep him out of the pool!

      Delete
  12. Lovely post! Well done, Mario, for his achievement and his determination! I think never compare any children to others - they are all different and all have their own pace. Comparisons change nothing & aren't worth worrying about. As long as they achieve what they are personally capable of, for themselves, in their own time, they have done brilliantly. Good for you for persevering to find the right groups and help for Mario to reach this point. #SSAmazingAchievements

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I totally agree and wish more people thought that way!

      Delete

Latest Instagrams

©spectrum mum ~ www.spectrummum.com (diaryofanimperfectmum.com) 2014 - present day. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to spectrum mum with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
© Spectrum Mum. Design by FCD.