Saturday, April 9, 2011

Girls at the Pool

She had noticed my daughter.

I mean, how could you not? Joy is the happiest kid in the waiting room, practically pogo-sticking up and down in her little swimsuit and squealing. The sheer delight continues through her one-on-one lesson, as she cavorts with her smiling teacher. Sometimes she gives the teacher a run for her money, too, lunging for the lovely stimmy pool dividers. At least she doesn't need an extra staffer to keep her from taking off at a run during jump-in practice like she did when we first started the swimming thing! But it's also during jump-ins that one notices the tracking-device around Joy's ankle.

I had noticed her daughter too.

One of the older students, doing racing-dives and more complex strokes (butterfly!) with a bunch of classmates in the long lane at the other side of the pool. Young teen, maybe, with a not-yet-a-woman-but-getting-there kind of shape. Obviously very fond of her male teacher, hanging on him noticeably -- what would have been cute in a first-grader was beginning to shade into the inappropriate for a 13-ish-year-old who didn't quite seem to have figured out the new boundaries. He was patient with her.

Yesterday in the pool observation area, another mother was sitting near me, obviously watching Joy and her teacher, the closest people in the pool. Joy's teacher nudged her to poolside, and Joy climbed out all on her own, moves that her teacher had had to help with just a couple weeks ago. Great concentration and effort.

"Hardest-working kid in the pool," I commented proudly to the other mom.

"Oh, is that your daughter?" she responded, and proceeded to amply reward my compliment-fishing.

And then she said, "Autism?"

I nodded. "Autism, and a few things more."

"My daughter's on the spectrum too. PDD-NOS. That's her in the far lane, green suit, just diving in."

Yes, that girl.

That girl had never had the one-on-one lessons that Joy has now, but her mom said that watching Joy had some very familiar feel to it. How her daughter reacted differently to the water than the other (much younger back then) kids in her class. How the sensory issues made such a difference, and then in her daughter's case the emotional part was huge too.

And now she's doing the butterfly and looking just like the other kids in class, with the slight exception of hanging just a smidge too much on her teacher. She won't likely swim on a competitive level, said mom, but she loves it and it's great exercise.

"It gets better. It really does!" she said.

I can see it from here. Joy is doing so well, we can track her progress at the pool by the week...

And yesterday she got another achievement-ribbon. I'll use the image of the one she got in February to illustrate, but the new one is like unto it -- a Level 2 / Guppy ribbon, in the "Becoming More Independent" category. Her new achievement is "Swim 3-5 Feet." Unassisted, between 2 platforms, no feet on the pool bottom.

I look forward to the day Joy can do the butterfly the full length of the pool. And if she hangs a little too much on her teacher, well, she won't be the only awesome achiever who's ever done so.


Anonymous said...

Ahhh! Joy spreading the meaning of her name! Well, reading about her success in swimming is a joy! Well, you, JoyMama, are doing the 'spreading' here. Eloquently!

I also think about all the steps and means it took to get Joy to this point. And time. Time contributes to the process.

"It gets better. It really does!" she said.


Congrats to you both!


Big Daddy Autism said...

Awesome! My boy is like a fish in the water. He seems so calm and serene when in the pool.

Bethany said...

Simply amazing. Amazing Joy, continuing to progress through her swim classes and gain skills while having so much fun. Amazing you for creating an environment in which she can succeed and her needs can be met. Amazing child who never had individual lessons but blossomed in swimming anyway and is not virtually indistinguishable from the other children as she swims the butterfly. Amazing lessons of love and patience and learning and time and faith.

JoyMama said...

TherExtras - I've been thinking a lot about the role that time plays in the various successes we've been seeing. She's growing up, my girl is!

Big Daddy - Hey there! Looks like we both have fishies -- what fun. But does your fishie-guy spout water from his mouth, too? Or drink enough of the pool that it affects the rest of the evening's bathroom routine? :-)

Bethany - "amazing" is an excellent word. Thank you.

Chris P-M said...

How wonderful that your daughter is such a great swimmer! (I actually teach PT swim lessons for the YMCA...and do actually teach the "guppy" level ;)

Still incredibly miffed about the shenanigans in Waukesha County (the county in which I live, BTW). I finally felt I could walk with a spring in my step when hearing the results of Kloppenburg's victory. I am revolted at the corruption which continues to play out in our politics...both federally and statewide. (Sigh)

Casdok said...

Im sure it wont be long!

Anonymous said...

hooray for Joy!!!
it must fill you with joy to see her joy... doing something she enjoys so much and does so well.

Lynn said...

Very cool. Every time I read about Joy swimming I think how I must get Audrey into it. I must!