Saturday, October 9, 2010

different pool, same teacher

Today my 6 year old Aspie son had his first swim lesson in a different pool than he's used to.  Since the weather is getting colder, his swim teacher suggested we move the lessons indoors.  I had a feeling this change of routine was going to cause an emotional meltdown.  Well, mom is always right, unfortunately.  After 3 episodes of sobbing and 2 episodes of extreme anxiety that the pool was deeper than the 3 1/2 feet painted along the edge, he finally calmed down enough to perform the skills his teacher asked of him. 

It's amazing seeing the transformation of his swimming ability over the past two years.  He's completed Level 1 group swimming lessons four times in the past 2 years.  Every time he received a completion certificate with notes like, "Good job!  Need to keep practicing skills.  Recommend repeating course."   At the time, we had no idea he had Asperger's Syndrome.  We knew he was 'different' than other kids but didn't ever put the pieces of the puzzle together, so to speak.  As a matter of fact, it was only about a month ago we found out. 

Anyway, after the last group lesson I pleaded with every swim coach in the building to please give him private lessons.  One finally agreed.  I think she felt sorry for us but honestly I don't care what her reason was behind finally agreeing.  I'm just thankful she said yes.  Since starting private lessons he's gone from refusing to put his head underwater to diving under the water to retrieve toys off the bottom of the pool.  He still cannot coordinate his movements to swim effectively and is still quite fearful.  However, considering he spent every group swimming lesson crying and convinced he was going to drown if he put even his chin in the water to now eagerly going under for 10 seconds at a time is HUGE.  For all parents with an Aspie child, I highly recommend skipping group lessons and going straight for one on one.  You will save lots of money, time, and kid tears by getting a private swim teacher.  Of course, your child will probably cry at first but with a patient and understanding swim coach that understands your child's uniqueness, your child can go far. 

I am glad we chose swimming as his sport.  His physical therapist said he has the muscle development of a 3 year old child instead of the 6 year old that he is.  The water makes moving around easier for him while still giving him an excellent work out.  My Aspie tires easily out of the water, but in the water he can last for a whole hour.  He is able to build confidence (which he is severely lacking), exercise his muscles, and learn a valuable life-saving skill all at once.  He tried karate a few times but was so uncoordinated and exhausted by the end of it he ended up in tears.  I think once he gets older and increases his endurance I will allow him to try karate again.  But for now, swimming is the best choice for my son.

I took him for pizza after swimming.  Pizza is one of his few favorite foods that he will eagerly ingest.  He had another episode of vomiting immediately after eating.  We spent a good 15 minutes in the restroom.  Sometimes I wonder if the workers and patrons wonder what the heck we are doing in there for so long but have to tell myself it doesn't matter what they think.  And ya know, it doesn't. 

He vomits at least once a day--usually more.  From what I've read this is a common problem with many Aspie children.  I have yet to find any solution or suggestions for helping him overcome vomiting.  I wish we could find a solution as it is very distressing for him and me.  I always remain calm on the outside but on the inside I'm wincing and wishing I had a magic pill or spell or magic anything to help him.


  1. I realize you may not be keeping this up any more, but I wanted to address the vomiting. Many children with Asbergers (and most children with autism) have digestive problems. One of the most common is an alergy to wheat. Another is dairy products. Pizza combines the worst aspects of both and is also high in fat (another common trigger). Try taking him off one of these items at a time for a couple of weeks and see if it gets better.

  2. Thanks for the suggestion, Lauren. We actually did try the gluten and dairy free diet for a while. It didn't really change anything for him. What we have found that helps is limiting his sugar intake and the amount of food in general. He has a tendency to want to keep eating and eating and eating until he feels sick from overeating. It is like he cannot control himself. So we are limiting him to only so much food at each meal and only one to two small sweet snacks a day. This has really made a huge difference. He does still have stomach issues but the vomiting has almost disappeared. He only vomits now when he has a migraine or when triggered by a sight/smell that is bothersome.