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epilepsy & swimming... what supervision is needed?

(13 Posts)
kats3 Tue 21-May-13 15:00:18

my 9yr old is due to start school swimming lessons soon, and the idea terrifies me!

9yr old currently having uncontrolled absences and myoclonic jerks (used to have full generalized seizures but meds have appeared to work for these at the moment...6 months so far, fingers crossed it stays that way!)

when we go swimming as a family, im there in the water with him, constant eyes on him, completely supervised & safe...

School says there will be a teacher in the water to 'keep an eye' on him and a couple of other special needs kids... am I being over protective / unreasonable to think he needs more than that? :-/

im worried if any seizure happens while teachers dealing with the others, he could get hurt / scared (hes not confident about swimming with school anyway, so I need to reassure him he will be well looked after...and believe it when im telling him)

any experiences / advice / ideas welcome (good or bad!) might help keep me sane! smile

thanks. x

zzzzz Tue 21-May-13 15:19:10

I was told by the consultant that dd was never to swim without an adult right next to her. She hasn't had a seizure at all for over a year.
I think they need to do a proper risk assessment.

www.epilepsy.org.uk/info/sports-leisure

Gives some advice on different sports. They need to understand what to do if he does have a seizure in the water (we were told to support dd in water and only remove her once it had passed)

I never swam at school unless I had a one to one teacher with me and this is going back 20 years! School need to rethink this and give him the support he needs

Ineedmorepatience Wed 22-May-13 11:28:04

I dont mean to scare you but wanted you to know that years ago when I worked as a lifeguard there was a fatality at the pool and the person who died had had a seizure and inhaled loads of water. He hadnt told anyone at the pool he had epilepsy or staff could have watched him more carefully.

He definitely needs one to one in the water.

Fluffy1234 Wed 22-May-13 13:57:08

I don't want to scare you but my son has epilepsy and I only let him swim if he has an adult with him at all times.

chatee Wed 22-May-13 21:05:06

Firstly ask to see the risk assessment they have prepared for your child.
Secondly, my child has a disability and swims with lots of other children/ adults with disabilities and on competition entry forms all persons with epilepsy have to have their own named spotter who is dressed appropriately and stands at the side of the pool ready to act in an emergency.
I would not be allowing my child to attend without either a spotter or a person who knows my child extremely well who recognises how the epilepsy affects your child.
Good luck and you should not be expected to be the spotter/extra person.

kats3 Wed 22-May-13 22:51:38

thank you so much everyone, I was starting to think I was going crazy! the school keep repeatedly telling me its fine because the teacher will be 'stood at the side of the pool watching all the kids'
I keep telling them its not enough, and explaining he needs one to one, but all im getting told is that the lifeguard who is at the pool will know about his epilepsy so its fine...they don't seem to understand that someone looking over occasionally isn't enough sad

the latest I have been told is that if im not happy with the level of supervision, he could just not go swimming if I prefer and stay at school while his class goes, because they 'cant free up another teacher just for him' :-/

As tempted as I am to just say fine, if hes not safe hes not going (because no way on earth do I want to risk him getting hurt) I think its completely unfair, he needs to learn to swim just as much as everyone else and shouldn't be left out, ive told them they need to sort it out because he should be going, but have a feeling they are going to refuse point blank and my only choice will be to refuse to let him go (which seems to be what they want)

the doctor has agreed to write a letter to say if he goes he needs someone in the water with him, but even the doctor suggested he could just not go if they cant provide someone...seems like im fighting a loosing battle at the moment sad

xx

PolterGoose Wed 22-May-13 22:58:11

kats school have a duty under the Equality Act to make reasonable adjustments, I would say that 1-1 supervision for swimming is reasonable and that as swimming is part of the curriculum they have a duty to support him.

This Acas guide to the Equality Act is aimed at employers but don't worry about that, it is a really good introduction the the Act. You can quote it when you write to school reminding them of their duty wink

kats3 Wed 22-May-13 23:25:29

Thanks Poltergoose, I really thought when I first mentioned it that it was completely reasonable and would just simply be arranged for him to have 1 to 1, I never imagined it would even be questioned!

Will definitely be going in to school for yet another moan / final chance for them to agree before I put it in writing to the head.

Appreciate the link, and have had a read, backs up what I thought which helps me reassure myself im not just in 'over protective mommy' mode! lol.

So glad to have found this site, really helps reduce some of the stress of not knowing everything (despite spending hours searching for info!) x

zzzzz Wed 22-May-13 23:29:02

You are definitely not being over protective. I wouldn't let dd swim in these circumstances. They are being nutty. (You could probably sort it out by talking to the pool manager if school won't play ball, as I'm pretty sure they have quite strict rules re epilepsy.)

Good luck. Can you tell us what happens as I may need to do the same next year!

kats3 Thu 23-May-13 00:36:03

Thanks Zzzzz, will let you know what happens, it annoys me so much that during these weeks that I should be reassuring/preparing my son for the idea of going swimming without me to build up his confidence, I cant.

All I want is to be able to tell him ''don't worry, miss/mr somebody will be with you in the water the whole time, so if you feel unwell/scared they are there, and they will keep you safe''
instead im saying ''don't worry, im trying to sort out with school so you can be properly supervised, I promise I wont send you unless they have sorted it out'' not what a 9yr old who's confidence has gone downhill needs really! soooo frustrating! sad

we will get there in the end....hopefully sooner rather than later! smile

re talking to the pool manager, I hadn't thought of that (brain has turned to mush from all the over thinking lately!) will definitely consider that if no look with school tomorrow, thanks! smile x

kats3 Fri 24-May-13 23:23:15

hi all, finally got 5 mins to come on and update...

the SENCO & class teacher have both told me a teacher will be in the water with my son to give him 1 to 1 supervision, the class teacher will be poolside watching him specifically too smile

I was advised by the SENCO to ask the head teacher for a copy of the 'risk assessment' (which if im honest, Im not exactly sure what is/ should contain) Anyway, I asked today, and the head teacher said that its not ready yet but they will do all they can to get it ready in time, but if its not ready my son will have to miss the 1st lesson while they sort it out... do risk assessments really take that long? I was quite surprised that it might not be ready, but as I say, I don't actually know what it is they have to do. School broke up today, and lessons start in the afternoon of the 1st day back, so I guess they don't have much time to sort it out really...

Relieved they finally accept its needed though smile one less stress!

thanks a lot to everyone who's advised on this so far, much appreciated smile xx

kats3 Tue 18-Jun-13 14:27:10

quick update... My son has now finished his 2 weeks of school swimming lessons, all went smoothly, and he can now swim! smile smile smile

after all my moaning, he got a personal risk assessment done with it agreed for him to have a named 1 to 1 in the water with him at all times....the teacher did ask after the 1st week if I was ok with the 1 to 1 'watching from the poolside, because he can swim now' to which I just said no, and they couldn't really disagree as that's stated on the risk assessment.

so, to sum up, he went from being just about able to stay a float with armbands, and very nervous of going with school (but happy to go splash about with me) to swimming 10+ meters without any floats, and looking forward to swimming lessons! smile

definitely was worth the fight, thanks to everyone who advised me on this one smile x

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