I have to giggle as I recall Autism strut itself in my face, with a big “take that, woman!” just one day after I just posted that I’ve forgotten about the big “A” a little since the end of school.
Monday morning we started a week of swimming lessons at the local outdoor pool and I had foolishly forgotten how vibrant the signs of Autism can be in new situations and places….most certianly in BOTH!!
Monday morning, I must admit, I almost had a little parent meltdown myself. Which, is not a failure, it is almost good to know that I have been virtually symptom-free for so long that a resurfacing of some of the more primal reactions may affect me so deeply.
I had to take a few deep breaths and blink back a few tears as I watched Lincoln struggle to conform to the new set of expectations that were jammed into a 30 minute, 40 kid pool in the middle of a summer camp.
He splashed, and crashed and stimmed and chattered to himself and when he could no longer take the wait (lets face it, swimming lesson move at a slow pace) HE BOLTED. The shiny plastic slide just a few feet away finally coaxed him out of the pool and inevitably, into trouble.
It did not help that despite my best efforts, no one had been advised that we checked off “special needs” and “one on one support” on our swimming sign up sheet. I had little choice but to tell Lincoln his 3 chances were up and he needed to get out of the pool, which made him yell and complain — he loves the water and having to leave was most upsetting.
A mother I had been speaking with, (which interestingly enough also had a son with autism) said not to be so hard on him because he didn’t know any better and couldn’t help his actions.
Without pause, I answered that he could, and that is I did not stand firm he would not know his limits. I imagine she thought I was pretty harsh.
Today, when we attended swimming we were better prepared.
I knew that the dangling carrot would be that fun slide. I knew that I might not be able to stop the hopping up and down hyper in the pool but I might be able to contain it by asking that he keep a hold on the side of the pool, which he was to do anyhow.
I knew that if I could get him to understand that the swim instructors must be listened to and followed like his teachers this year, he would have a better chance of getting through the structured lesson.
I also knew that he wanted to be successful and that his comment of “I am a failure” after yesterday meant it was important we were happy with him.
Lots of ‘thumbs up’ “good jobs” and “way to listen” from both us and his really great instructors made day 2 a big success!! That slide sure looked fun as he was the first guy to take a turn on it.
I smiled a lot today and mostly out of pride. My son was able to figure out the requirements for a successful day in just 24 hrs. This is a great adjustment!
The Mom from yesterday had brought a chair and sat on the other side of the pool today, a sign I took as”I am not open to talking to you today or to share a picnic table” but I was happy to see she waved me over after swimming, noted that her son wanted her to sit over by the pool but tomorrow she would join me at the table again. I think she understood that even between autistic parents you can’t judge. Every child is different. Every strategy unique. As long as love and support are present, let everyone be free to do what is best for their child.
Autism may make it more challenging at times, but there is always a way. Never give up. Work at your own pace and take a deep breath, maybe two or three.Be human.
I just can’t wait for tomorrow!!