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.