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Swim teacher asked if dd was special needs/autistic

(39 Posts)
LIG1979 Sat 16-Aug-14 14:30:19

Dd is 2.0 and a daredevil. She went swimming and there was a new teacher and when dd dived underwater as she does and came up laughing she asked if she had special needs or was autistic. Would fearlessness be a sign of autism or is she just talking rubbish?

Dd doesn't have any other signs of autism but I do wonder if she feels pain. At nursery she is often in the accident book but they say she hasn't cried. She will cry if sick/upset but it seems like physical injuries seem to not bother her.

WorraLiberty Sat 16-Aug-14 14:40:34

It might be best to get her checked out if you can.

Taken from this autism awareness link

While it is difficult to generalize autistic behavior, there are a few commonly cited tendencies

An affinity for water. Many autistic individuals are attracted to water, even when they cannot swim. Studies have found that autistic children are at a higher risk of drowning than non-autistic children. Many autistic children are fearless when it comes to water and have little regard for the temperature or the depth.

High thresholds of pain. Many individuals have higher than normal thresholds for pain, which can mask serious medical issues, Kupietz found. Just because an individual is not displaying signs of pain does not mean they aren’t injured.

Bearsinmotion Sat 16-Aug-14 14:42:12

No, I think she's just half fish! I was the same, as is DD (2.5). She fearless and especially in the pool, happy, sociable and cuddly. She also does the no pain thing - she is upset if she is shocked, but rarely cries in response to just pain. If she has no other signs I wouldn't worry.

vickylu1 Sat 16-Aug-14 14:42:52

Looking at this link:

I would say your daughter does not have autism. Fearlessness is completely opposite to fear of things mentioned in the article. If she is happy to go into the water without fear, I'd embrace it. Can't quite believe the swimming teacher said that.

As for feeling no pain, could be worth checking out with your GP but if she cries when ill I'd say she can feel pain but is just super brave.

If she did have a disorder of some sort then it would more likely be ADHD but I don't think that's what she has just saying that would fit more with what you said than autism.

See link:

It's a difficult one as she's injured herself and isn't bothered by it, without making her worried of everything, she needs to know to be careful, she's still young though so awareness will come, if it doesn't and you're concerned, the GP is a good place to start.


Justgotosleepnow Sat 16-Aug-14 14:44:17

I think that swimming teacher was way out of line asking that.
If the child was or wasn't how would that affect their teaching? Don't see why it would. Just nosy hmm

vickylu1 Sat 16-Aug-14 14:46:48

Ok so just seen the affinity for water and high pain threshold thing. Didn't know about that so maybe the swimming teacher knew about this. Still doesn't sound like your daughter has autism.

She was probably an Amazonian warrior in a past life smile

Lottiedoubtie Sat 16-Aug-14 14:48:45

If the child was or wasn't how would that affect their teaching? Don't see why it would.

Really you don't see why knowledge of a specific learning disability would help a teacher to teach more effectively? Really?

I'm assuming of course that the teacher asked sensitively and privately OP.

OP I'd consider what the teacher said as objectively as you can (ha virtually impossible with your own child I know) and if you have concerns then there is no harm in getting them checked out. Remember the swimming teacher isn't qualified to diagnose, and nor is anyone online, but I'd be inclined to err on the side of caution and get things looked into at least.

Panzee Sat 16-Aug-14 14:53:28

I have noticed that some children with ASCs prefer swimming underwater than on the surface, but that's as far as it goes from my anecdotal experience. I have taught some children who are most definitely not fearless whet it comes to the water!

I assumed it was a sensory issue, it's probably more comforting undewater than listening to all that racket above!

MrsJoeDolan Sat 16-Aug-14 14:53:37

ASD isn't a specific learning disability, it's a developmental condition. Swimming teacher was probably a little out of line.

Some children respond to sensory input differently and some children have a much lower threshold for pain than others.

If she has no other indicators for ASD, I would not be concerned about ASD. she is only 2.

LIG1979 Sat 16-Aug-14 15:02:25

That is interesting about the water thing and autism. I had never heard of that before and that could explain why the woman said we she did as she is pretty odd in lessons compared to the other kids. The reason we did get her lessons is because we are worried she may drown as she sees water she run to get into it and will throw herself in but can't swim. However, dh and I met as lifeguards so we are both into water.

I think ADHD is a lot more like dd but she is 2.0 so also just a typical toddler. She doesn't seem typically autistic as she is very sociable, good eye contact and very happy with a change in routine. She is a bit of a drama queen and will play to an audience charming people in her eagerness to be liked. Will need to look at those links when I have better web access.

Thank you for all your responses.

vvviola Sat 16-Aug-14 15:08:42

LIG while it may be worth looking into, I also know of plenty of NT 2yo with a similar affinity to water. My DD2 was one of them. Last summer (aged 2.5) any trip to the beach or near the sea resulted in her making a headlong dash to the water. It was more than a little stressful, especially considering the amount of time we spent on the beach (lovely hot NZ summer). Sometimes it's just a case of "being 2"

(That said, I don't have much experience of autism etc, so if you are concerned, I'd definitely investigate a bit further)

Lottiedoubtie Sat 16-Aug-14 15:08:55

ASD isn't a specific learning disability, it's a developmental condition

True, but the original question from the swimming teacher was about Autism and learning difficulties. It's still important for a teacher to know if a pupil has autism or another condition/disability the point I made is still relevant.

Catsmamma Sat 16-Aug-14 15:10:19

dd was always a dare devil....she'd have been about 3 when we went to Disney, never been anywhere other than bath or paddling pool before, and she just revelled in the pool...flumes/whirlpools/deep end I was having kittens trying to keep track of her, but she just did not care, she was under the water more than above it

It was just as if she did not know there was such a thing as not being able to swim....I'd not say she was a great swimmer even now, but of the three of them she took to it best when they all had proper swimming lessons.

As a complete nonsense aside she once claimed to have seen a mermaid...holidaying on west coast of scotland.... Oban, or Ullapool and even now at 19 she swears it could not have been anything else! So we joke she must be a mermaid changeling!

GlacindaTheTroll Sat 16-Aug-14 15:21:50

It's probably a routine question asked by a new teacher of each and every child whose behaviour is noticeably an outlier.

It is better by far that the question is asked (so the new teacher can establish if adaptations are required and implement them immediately) than rely on a pre-class handover briefing as mistakes/omissions are all too easily made.

vickylu1 Sat 16-Aug-14 16:32:26

I guess the teacher could ask but I think it should be up to the parents to disclose when booking in for lessons so they (the teachers) can prepare for adaptations where necessary. I don't see why the teacher would bring it up if not previously mentioned. Seems rather uncalled for.

OP your daughter sounds like a typical 2 year old, just a lot braver than some and if you and OH are water babies then it all makes sense.

Btw love the mermaid sighting, that's cool!

BackforGood Sat 16-Aug-14 17:27:11

Thing is Vicky, nothing had been mentioned to the teacher, but, in the OP's own words : "she is pretty odd in lessons compared to the other kids".
I presume the swimming teacher has observed her throughout the lesson and has noticed that, and is therefore asking. She's not just though - 'this little girl is confident in water so must be autistic'.

Deverethemuzzler Sat 16-Aug-14 17:36:17

I have never heard the water thing either.

It is not something I have ever experienced or come across personally or through work.

People with Autism can have differing sensory issues re pain. My DS can call a slight brush against him a punch or fall flat on his face and make no complaint.

I am not sure it is up to a swimming teacher to ask. If a parent is aware of a child's ASD they might not chose to share that. If the parents are not aware the swimming teacher is highly unlikely to be qualified to point it out.

GlacindaTheTroll Sat 16-Aug-14 17:42:12

"I don't see why the teacher would bring it up if not previously mentioned."

OP said it was a new teacher. Who might not have had access to the initial enrolment forms (or knows that record keeping and/or new teacher briefing can be imperfect). Personally, I think it's better for a new or supply teacher to ask and be sure thn trust 'the system', especially round water (but can see not everyone agrees).

vickylu1 Sat 16-Aug-14 20:30:47

I guess the teacher didn't say it in a bad way. Just think that it's the parents choice to disclose. One of my pupils has told me that they have aspergers but mum and dad didn't tell me. When the pupil told me I wasn't surprised but didn't really see it as relevant for us as I teach everyone as an individual anyway so unless there's something that the parents need to warn me about e.g that if a pupil starts doing something that it means that they are not feeling comfortable etc..

I teach piano so it's not particularly risky to the people I teach if I'm not aware so I guess for a swimming teacher it would be more important to be informed if there was a child with special needs or a disorder of any sort however I do think that parents would know to mention if they thought their child would be at risk in whatever teaching situation they may be in.

OP as a lifeguard (former or current) I'm sure if you really felt your daughter would be in danger you would have mentioned it to the teacher but as you didn't feel that she would be in danger I don't see why the teacher felt the need to say anything as I think it could upset some parents and cause concern by someone who is not qualified to make such assumptions.

Either way, if you are still concerned, it's definitely worth a trip to the GP. smile

LIG1979 Sat 16-Aug-14 21:34:29

I don't think I am concerned but was more a bit miffed about why she would say something like that and wondered if there was something I was missing. I think nursery would have mentioned if they thought there was an issue.

mymatemax Sat 16-Aug-14 22:19:15

oh ffs, people with autism are just as likely to love or hate water as the next person.
Some find water very enjoyable, some hate it, some couldn't care less one way or the other.
I don't think fearlessness of water & a love of swimming underwater forms part of the current diagnostic criteria.
OP, if you have concerns re your dd development then its good to take advice from a professional.
I'm assuming the swimming teacher isn't also a part time developmental paediatrician.
I am sure she was well meaning but probably not the smartest way of asking about a childs development.

vickylu1 Sat 16-Aug-14 22:26:27

Well said mymatemax !

LIG1979 I'd be annoyed too! You know your child better than someone who sees them for 30 mins once a week even if they are moonlighting as a child development expert. Glad you aren't concerned. Yes, nursery should say something if they think there's a cause for concern. She sounds lovely, I wish mine were better with the water. I loved it but they weren't very keen as little ones, hoping my younger one will be more confident in the water after our holiday smile

Purpleroxy Sat 16-Aug-14 22:29:55

My autistic child is very cautious, water or no water.

Deverethemuzzler Sat 16-Aug-14 22:39:23

I would also be miffed.

Cathycat Sat 16-Aug-14 23:00:21

Was she maybe just checking in the way that she would ask does she have any allergies, asthma or breathing difficulties?

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