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Is this AS type anxiety?

(19 Posts)

We tried group swimming lessons with DS last school year (year R) and he wouldn't even get in the pool - cue massive meltdown, me pre-any suggestiolns of any SN being v embarrassed and angry.

Thought it was all sensory stuff re big group and echoes, group lesson so too much going on. Last weekend we took him to a 1:1 lesson with DH in the water with DS and the coach. He seemed to get on well. The teacher was keen to get him blowing bubbles and he managed to push himself off under water to DH. Lots of games and fun.

Yesterday was the worst day we have had for months - everything has been quite calm for a couple of months both at home and at school and my mum was starting to question any SN apart from dyspraxia. He had a fight at school, lost most of his golden time, didn't do any work for 3 out of 5 lessons and his fizzy that he loves was cut short due to behaviour. Got home and we had full blown meltdown re teeth brushing, rudeness, shouting throwing etc.

Tonight he came out with that he was not going to go to the pre-booked lesson on Sunday as he was afraid of putting his head in the water. He was really really upset with crying, screaming, sobbing etc. Even once I had said that he didn't have to put his head in the water, he couldn't get out of the zone he was in. We ended up doing hard pressure hugs on the floor for ages to try and get out of the mood that he was in. I asked him why he hadn't told me that he was worried about swimming. He said that he didn't know that he was worried until now. I wonder whether the anxiety was building up in him until it reached a level that he couldn't cope with......

Sorry. This is really long and rambling but so different to anything that we have had for ages. He is almost 6 with dyspraxia, sensory processing disorder and waiting for a MDA for ASD.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Fri 10-Jun-11 20:40:58

Very difficult to get to the bottom of this. It may be that he really hasn't been worrying about swimming until today, but because everything has been going wrong this week it's a case of the final straw. I would try to play it down but still go swimming. Don't worry him about going, tonight. Sleep on it and talk about it tomorrow, reassuring him that he won't have to do anything he's not happy with.

Marne Fri 10-Jun-11 20:41:30

Sounds like my dd1, she was the same with swimming, got very anxious but then was ok once she got in (but still got anxious the next time and the next time), children (and adults) with AS tend to think more about things and get worked up about things, they think about what could happen if something went wrong and what if...., this builds up into a huge anxiety which is hard to shift.

Maybe you could say 'well we will go to the pool and see how you feel when we get there', tell him 'he doesn't have to do anything that makes him feel uncomfortable', once he gets in he might supprise you (and himself) and enjoy it, if he does enjoy it keep reminding him how well he done, how good he is at swimming (dont mention any bits he did not enjoy, eg, putting head under water).

Thanks ladies. Oh dear. Sounds like I have reacted wrongly.

The only thing that would calm him down was actually agreeing to cancel it.

Maybe if I ask him if we just want to go to the pool instead? I know he will enjoy just playing with a ball in the water but I can't teach him to swim as I can't get him to focus enough, to put his body in the right place, to put his head back in the water to float or take his hands off the floor of the pool - have started SIT and doing RRT to try and help with this but it is impossible..........

He was almost doing some of that with the teacher but he was so so anxious today and when we went to the group lessons last time, I'm not sure that I can put him through it. I can't carry him anymore and based on the behaviour tonight, he would be kicking and screaming if a lesson was even hinted at sad

coff33pot Fri 10-Jun-11 20:52:22

I would say it is possible Ben10. My ds is 5.11 not yet dx but they are looking at AS.

He has what I would say a delay in reaction. He has a hard job detecting what people are feeling and also himself. So in new experiences he tends to have a dazed going with the flow sort of look. It is hard to explain but he is toooo calm and you are sort of guiding him with a pleasantish straight look on his face just as if he is supposed to be enjoying it because everyone else is but just not quite got there yet. I soon find out next time we try the same experience because he either charges forth or just plain screams his head down and wont leave the front door or yells all the way round.

That sounds v v familiar coff33pot. Particularly the dazed look.....

Marne Fri 10-Jun-11 21:00:37

It could be the fact it is a stranger (the coach) trying to teach him, if he's anxious he will find it hard to trust someone that he doesn't know.

I often take dd1 swimming and she spends most of the time sat on the side splashing her feet or just walking ups and down with her feet firm on the bottom of the pool. I would suggest a trip to the pool with you or dh, no coaching, let him do what he wants in the pool and he will get more confident and used to being in water.

I can remember having swimming lessons, i hated strangers touching me, could not trust anyone to hold on to me or not splash me. When i was 8 i was lucky enough to have a swimming pool in the garden (built by my lovely dad), i taught myself to swim mainly through playing, no one telling me what to do, no one making me get my face wet. By the age of 9 i was swimming like a fish and competing at school, in the summer i spent more time under water than above grin.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Fri 10-Jun-11 21:21:31

Wouldn't change your mind now, then, Ben10. He will think you can't be trusted! grin Maybe a stress free family fun swim next W/E instead? I do think swimming is a life skill (and makes holidays more fun) though, so I would persevere with something, but maybe not straightaway.

Thanks ladies.

DH really didn't know what to make of the whole thing as he couldn't believe how upset DS was about the thought of the lesson. He "just wants him to be able to do stuff like everyone else" sad

It is taking us a while to understand DS and his reactions and not to think that he is choosing to react in the way he does. Hopefully if/when we get an ASD/AS dx then it will be easier or more obvious to us.

We will just buy some floats and do races etc - he is highly competitive so should float his boat so to speak grin

coff33pot Sat 11-Jun-11 12:26:12

I think it is a long road to understand your childs feelings. Everything is so unpredicable an when you least expect it as least it is here smile I am gradually working signs or signals that things are not well buy making a diary and working out the odd pattern of events/feelings. Its good to backtrack over it a bit like a behaviour reference book lol

Great idea on the floats! I wouldnt just not take him again. He might be aprehensive at first but if he builds confidence slowly like even sitting on the side and kicking his legs and watching you and DH race lol he may join in in the end.

Jaspants Sat 11-Jun-11 16:02:51

Bit late to this but DS is similar when something is making him anxious his behaviour changes massively and it can take a long time to actually get to the bottom of what the problem is.

Swimming is a bit of an ASD nightmare - sensory overload with the noise and feeling of water on their skin.

wendihouse22 Sat 11-Jun-11 17:51:55

My son is like this about school swimming lessons. He enjoys going with his dad but hates it with his class mates. My ds has all kinds of issues about his body so, I think it's ,ore about his OCD and physical/germ associations.

He doesn't always go with school. They don't push him to do it. We all want our kids to be able to join in with their peers and make friends....sometimes they're just not up to it.

siblingrivalry Sun 12-Jun-11 14:03:24

DD1 has AS and it's only recently that she hasn't kicked up a huge fuss about swimming. She also has pretty severe sensory issues.

Like you, we had to give up group lessons.
Then, we got her 1:1, but these didn't work either. Stupidly, I overlooked hpw she would feel about a stranger touching her -eg supporting her while she floated, holding her head;etc -to say it upset dd is an understatement.

I think it could be worthwhile playing down swimming for the moment -go at a quiet time if you can, and bear in mind what type of clothes your ds will be wearing afterwards. DD1 couldn't bear to put socks or legging on as her legs didn't feel 'right'.
It may also be worth keeping the sessions really short initially- we only manged 10 minutes for ages!

Anxiety is definitely an AS thing, and if your ds is worried about the sensory side of swimming, his anxiety levels will soar.

On the plus side, dd can now swim a little bit and is pretty happy to go swimming, as long as it isn't too noisy and she has the 'right' clothes/towel etc.

Good luck x

Thank you again. I've had to go onto ESA due to being on long term sick and have found out that I can now get free swimming at certain times. All under 11s in our borough get free swimming so I think that we will go lots more and get him more happy with being there and introduce "swimming" by stealth - ie throwing the ball a bit further so he has to get it smile

amberlight Sun 12-Jun-11 14:34:52

Swimming? Urk. Being on the autism spectrum with sensory issues, I found swimming to be a nightmare. I'm ok in my own warm pool with just me taking my own time, but anyone trying to make me do exercises or swim a certain number of lengths etc just made me panic. Too much sensory stuff, too fast. Even now I'm a rubbish swimmer as I can't co-ordinate things properly.
An outdoor heated pool can be better. Less echoes. Might not be easy to find though.

Great idea Amberlight. Thanks, have located an outdoor heated pool 30 minutes away that definitely looks like it is worth a try smile Less echo definitely = good

bumblingbovine Mon 13-Jun-11 12:46:38

We had a lot of these sorts of problems with my ds (6.5 yrs old). I sporadically tried organised swimming lessons or sessions a few times between the age of of 3 and 5 years old and they were generally a disaster after the first or second lesson. We had a nightmare recently when ds's afterschool club did a summer playscheme. Ds is normally fine at after school club but when he went for a day during the summer, they went swimming and ds behaved appallingly. They were quite shocked at his behaviour actually as he is usually absolutely fine there.

In fact when school stared again I had some trouble getting him to attend the normal after school club again as he was so worried about going swimming again.

Anyway we gave up on lessons ages ago but dh takes him swimming almost every week and ds is very happy to go with his dad. He is now much more confident in the water and can put his head under the water etc, something he wouldn't have contemplated a year ago.

The key for ds was to go with someone he trusts (he is happy to go with me too ) and to allow him a lot of play time where he is in contol of what he does. Dh has an agreement with ds where ds does 10-15 mins of the swimming exercises/games that dh says to do and after that ds is in cahrge of what they do. This has worked and ds is getting much much more confident in the water and dh is convinced that ds will be swimming on his own soon It has taken around 18 months though.

bumblingbovine Mon 13-Jun-11 12:52:01

ah yes I had forgotten. Ds hates the pool to be too cold as well. The last set of lessons we tried he wailed and cried because the water was too cold. The frst lesson he did get in anyway (crying and wailing as he did it) and seemed to calm down and do the lesson. However he behved really badly at school the day of his next swimming lessons and when pressed a bit by dh said he was reslly worrried about going swimming after school.
Those were the last lessons we tried.

Actually there was a week of lessons that worked around a year ago. they were in a very warm pool, and dh went in the water as well as they were for children with sn. They were over half term so were half an hour a day so the regular routine probably helped too. that was the only time "organised" swimming lessons were not a disaster for ds.

Just to update this one.

We went to an outdoor heated pool yesterday with one of those long foam stick things. DS was great and allowed me to wrap it round him like a ring and he kicked his way up and down the pool. Obviously I was still holding him but it was a huge improvement. He is much stronger though as is doing SIT so could hold his head up away from the water. Still nowhere near putting his head back to do backstroke but will definitely go back.

Lovely day at a really lovely pool without any pressure of swimming lessons. Shame DH refused to put any suncream on his irish skin. He is this angry colour now! grin

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