View Full Version : Swim help

06-11-2012, 11:32 PM
We (actually me) are having a very frustrating experience with DS' swimming. this was his 6th class today and we've been having some trouble with getting the same instructor every week. In fact this is the 6th instructor! This pool has a spl needs program where they do 1-on-1 sessions for kids with spl needs. I think it's great! But not so much if the instructor changes every week. So, I complained and now we have one instructor assigned to us. Last week was our first session with him and this week he is on vacation! frustrating but I am willing to trudge it out - I have already paid for this month.

Anyways, the issue now is with DS I think - granted he is spl needs, but it is next to impossible for him to pay attention to what the instructor is saying. He just goes off on his own, starts to sink and the instructor gets him. It is cycle and keep going on. The insturctors use floatation devices - donuts, float noodle (they tie it around DS) or the dumbell. DS does not let them put the donut or tie the noodle. He just won't keep his arms over the dumbell. Won't kick when they ask him to, won't get it when they are doing hand over hand. He just goes there, tries to go off on his own, sinks and gets saved. there is no learning happening at any point. It is very frustrating for me to watch and I keep thinking it's a good thing I'm not the instructor having to deal with DS! How is he ever going to get it if he never ever pays attention or is willing to learn? He doesn't get that he is there to learn. am I expecting too much? I know he is capable of learning, but I don't know how to motivate him when I am not the instructor. I am unable to have a few minutes with the instrucotrs to let them know what might work, but then they all have spl needs training! I swim, but I am not a swimming instructor, so I don't wnat to interfere with their teaching. I yelled at DS in the car that he won't go back if he doesn't listen to his teacher, stay with his teacher or allow the teacher to put a float on him. I made him (quite unsuccessfully) repeat all these. I told him that we won't go back if he does not follow these three. We won't be back till next week same time, and I am not sure if I should continue drilling these into him. Are there any other ways? I don't want to give up swimming since it's just about the only activity that he is doing - he won't do any other activity., and now he is not even in school, and we are yet to start his therapy programs. Can I do something at home other than yell and be frustrated???

Also, they do this thing where they get the kid to jump into the water. DS just walks in and think he is doing fine since the instructor always catches him. The instructor repeatedly tells him to jump up high, but he won't do it. We know that he does not jump even without water, so, I need advice to teach him to jump in general. Any ideas? I am thinking I could teach him to jump off a step and ask him to do the same at the pool.

As I am writing this, I am feeling that DS is probably not ready, but again, I don;t want to stop the activity. so, any advice other than stopping would be great :) thank you....

06-12-2012, 12:21 AM
I don't think yelling afterwards will do any good. It is possible having a calm and very simple discussion about what you want him to do right before class might help. But honestly it sounds like the instructors aren't able to break down the tasks into small enough units for him to learn. Maybe now that you will hopefully have a consistent instructor things will improve.

My ds has ADHD and I ended up doing parent child classes with him for swim until he was five. (There is one pool here that does that for that age group.). Do you think things would go any better if you got in the water too? Or can you try a parent child class?

If things don't get better though, I would seriously consider stopping. I am sorry I know that's not what you asked to hear, but it sounds frustrating and nonproductive as things stand. I understand it is his only activity but it doesn't sound like there is any benefit to it, unless of course things do improve.


06-12-2012, 12:35 AM
One more thought. Do you think a social story might help? I am thinking particularly with the flotation device being put on him.

You may know, but just in case, this is a link with some examples of social stories. http://www.thegraycenter.org/social-stories/what-are-social-stories

Social stories did not work with my kiddo, but they seem to be a big help for a lot of special needs kids.


06-12-2012, 01:07 AM
Thanks, Catherine. I am desperate enough to keep checking for updates every hour :hysterical:

Social stories sounds like a good idea - we haven't had success with them either before, but I am willing to give them a try. Maybe something will click this time. And your other idea has me thinking - maybe I should take him to the pool a little ahead of time and have him make the choice of using one of the three ahead of time and let the instructor know to use only that for that and the next few sessions.

Not sure yet what to do about not listening/paying attention or about going off on his own. It's not one where you let him do what he wants and the consequences will convince him to listen to what is being told. How do I teach him that he needs to be taught! I agree yelling is not good, but you probably figured out by now that he ended up that way and was mostly me out of control :(

06-12-2012, 11:33 AM
I think it is difficult for kids in general to understand needing instruction. I know ds seemed not to understand that very well until he was six or seven. I don't know if that's a consequence of his special needs or his personality or just something kids don't always get. I remember having several conversations with him when he was five or so about needing to pay attention to the teacher/instructor so he could learn. It kind of sounds to me like maybe your ds just isn't ready to understand that yet.

I'd focus on trying to break down the things you want to happen at swim into small tasks. I think you would need to coordinate with the instructor and choose one or two tasks/skills you want to focus on first. Then try social stories, prompting before class, rewards during and/or after class and see if you can make progress. Maybe ask the instructor if he or she thinks it would be helpful to try having you in the water too. That would make it easier for you to communicate with the instructor about what kinds of prompts and/or rewards might work to gain cooperation.


06-12-2012, 10:14 PM
I'm wondering, what are your goals for DS in this class? I started my DS 1 in swim lessons at age 3, mostly for safety reasons. He was so impulsive and I wanted to be sure that he knew what to do if he ever jumped into the water...long story short, he went through the first level class at the YMCA (beginner pike ) seven times before he finally moved up to the next level. It was, like, a year and a half of the same class before he stopped goofiing around enough to do the requirement for the next class. Now he is 6 and is a pretty good swimmer - it's not pretty, but he can go the length of the lap pool without a bubble. I feel like I can take him to the beach and take my eyes off him for a minute, but only a minute lol.

So I guess what I'm saying is, do you want DS to really learn to swim, or just be comfortable/safe in the water? The actual swimming part may take longer than with a typical kid. I it's weird that they kept changing teachers on you, I hope it will help when you have the same person all the time.

06-12-2012, 10:33 PM
My 7 yr old DS with ADHD just really started learning how to swim last summer (age 6). Prior to that all he wanted to do was jump in and come out and walk around in the pool (up to the 3 ft mark). He is also low tone (not as much anymore), but it contributed to his getting tired when using his entire body (kicking and the arms). Last summer he finally became interested in actually learning how to swim and ended up doing level I and II red cross last summer. This summer he is in lessons all summer long (and I intend to take that into the fall, winter, spring). FWIW, he does private lessons b/c he simply cannot focus in a group. My goal is that he learns to swim for safety reasons (and b/c he wants to go off the slide in the deep end with friends and can't until he reaches level IV I believe). I have found that it's a LONG process with DS, but eventually things fall into place.

06-12-2012, 11:53 PM
Thanks for the perspective, HIU8 and Pepper. Yes, my goal is for him to know how to stay afloat and understand that jumping into the water without basic skills is not safe. Reading your responses, it seems like it is a process in general and more so with kids with spl needs. I guess it concerns and irks me that he is not even staying with his instructor and is just going off on his own all the time raising my heart rate (and I am a pretty hardened heart LOL) and seemingly getting the instructor also frustrtated. I haven't exchanged notes with a lot of moms of kids with spl needs but with the few that I have it seems their kids are doing a much better job than is DS. I guess when you have a kid with spl needs you NEVER compare let alone with NT kids...sigh...
thanks, I'll try to get him to internalize my original instructions (in a nicer way) of trying to listen to what the teacher says, staying with the teacher and letting him put a float on him. I'll also work on social stories, and take him earlier as I mentioned. I'll check about letting me in with him into the water, using some rewards and focusing on 2 tasks for next few weeks.
Yes, it has been frustrating to see a new instrucotr every week for the last 6 weeks and it is getting to me but DS has been such a sport about it and has done as well as he could ever do with new people, esp times in a row! I am so proud of him for that. I am glad I complained when I did, but unfortnuately in my case, the instrucotr took a vacation at the right time...sigh...hpefully no more. If this happens again, I will pull him out of this program and drive to another location (20 miles away) where there is another spl needs program happening. I am really interested in DS learning water safety - given his LOVE for water, I want to make sure he knows what to do in there and also like I said, this is his only activity now.