Recently, a fellow blogger wrote about being the parent of the only child who is crying and screaming at the pool during lessons. It couldn’t have hit any closer to home!
When she was three, I signed Frances up at the local community centre for swimming lessons. From the moment she got there, she would scream and cry and not want to go in the water. I tried, week after week, to get her to take a lesson, but it was to no avail.
It made me anxious and worried and strangely isolated from other parents: why WAS my child the only child who would not tolerate being touched or being put in the water on a raft?
(This was years before any diagnosis was sought or delivered. We didn’t know that she had special needs.)
Other parents would politely offer suggestions, and I didn’t tell them of my suspicions that nothing would work.
I remember well the anxiety that would build in me as another mother suggested that Frances shower at the same time as her own child. Frances wailed, the poor kid, and was too afraid to try each time.
It wasn’t long before the pool staff told me that her behaviour was distressing to the other kids, that she was too loud and disruptive.
That week, I had Pink Cup Dad come with us so that maybe he could see something that I could not.
I’ll never forget the moment when he loudly declared his annoyance at the staff as our little girl sat crying on the ledge of the pool.
“If they’re not going to even work with her to help her through her fear, forget it.”
He walked into the pool area, picked her up, and we left the building. We never went back.
Sure, my child may be very high functioning, but she was the only child who wouldn’t stop crying and screaming at the pool. It might have been a different story had we known that she had ASD — we would have had her in a special-needs lesson — but you never know. You live and you learn.
(By the way, she loves the water now.)