How often is it that you get to do something that you absolutely need, that is the healthiest thing for you, and is also the most fun you've had all day?
Joy had that experience on Tuesday after school, starting a 10-week session of swimming lessons.
I figured she'd enjoy it, but was a little bit wary. We'd last done swimming lessons at this facility back when I was just getting this blog going, the second half of 2008. Joy had a great one-on-one teacher for the summer session, and I posted triumphantly to Elvis Sightings to show off a perfect report card for the beginner Crab-level skills. Graduated after one session, just like any other kid, woohoo! (That post, by the way, is among my all-time most popular in terms of hits, as people go Googling for images of swimming report cards. Go figure.)
Alas, the second session of lessons did not go so well. Joy's fall-session teacher didn't "get" her and Joy responded accordingly. The second report card was so disheartening I didn't blog about it for months -- not only did Joy not get a Guppy (level 2) report card, her Crab report card suddenly had her going backwards, losing mastery of skills marked "M" the first round, even though I'd witnessed them working on new skills. (The staff fumblingly made it worse by explaining they'd been more honest the second round. Ugh.)
And then we got fully-underway with intensive autism therapy, and stopped the swim lessons altogether.
Lots has changed since then. Our schedule is more open now that school is underway. Joy is longer, taller, stronger. We've seen some glorious gains over those several years in communication and interaction. (Hurrah for Agency 2 and relationship-emphasizing House Blend therapy!) We've also seen Joy get braver at the public pool with jump-ins and dunking under on her own.
Tuesday with a new one-on-one teacher, I saw it all come together.
Joy had grown into Rose's old swimsuit that matched the one Joy was wearing last time we had lessons! She and her new teacher hit the same wavelength immediately, as the teacher led off right away with big smiles and animated praise -- a lovely repertoire of enthusiastic affirmations. Joy not only responded but started initiating little giggly face-making games! They were having more fun together than anyone else in the whole pool. And the kicking around against the resistance of the water was just the kind of sensory input that Joy needed.
She kept up with every one of the Crab skills her teacher put her through:
-- Submersions with Instructor
-- Backfloats with Assistance
-- Comfortable on Platform
-- No Tears
And, she's already got one of the Guppy skills nailed: unassisted jump-ins.
I have yet to confirm it with the new teacher. But if Joy doesn't get a Guppy report card this session, I'll eat my swim goggles.