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Swimming sessions with school - Am I overreacting?

(14 Posts)
eskimomama Tue 04-Oct-16 16:05:47

Hi all

My DD just turned 7, she has autism, non verbal, and just started a new school. We live abroad, but it's basically a special needs class within a mainstream school. All special needs mixed froge 7 to 12 , only 2 kids with ASD. Most of the other kids seem fairly high functioning but that's just my impression.

DD has always been very fond of swimming pools, lakes, sea etc. It's really her thing, except she can't swim just yet. She needs individual classes with a special needs instructor and we haven't got around to that yet.

Her new class is going to the pool once a week for the whole school year. In theory that's great but in reality it's not. They don't make any arrangement/adaptation to the children's level, whether they can swim or not they have to stay in the big pool (2m deep) and hang on the side during the session (doing I don't know what).
DD is panicking big time because her feet don't touch the bottom and she's not allowed to have armbands or a ring. From her point of view, her fear is very understandable as she thinks she might just drown....

Last week she must have been so terrified that she hurt her fingertips on the edge of the pool really badly, her towel was covered in blood and her fingertips are still sore and not healed 7 days later.

So I requested that they make some adaptation for her, for instance let her stay in the medium pool where she feels more secure and learn from there. The school refused - saying it's already small group (12 kids) and they can't let DD do her own thing. She must stay in the big pool with the others no matter what (some of them can't swim either but don't panic like her). And "if I don't want her to go to the pool I should keep her at home" (they know I'm not working).

So am I overreacting in thinking this is totally unfair? DD will just develop a phobia and it will take ages to break that. Which makes me mad because she always loved swimming pools so much.
I've looked into private classes but everything around here is fully booked until January. I also spoke with a swimming instructor who thought it didn't make any sense to teach children (SN or not) that way.

Should I keep DD at home those days or insist until they make some efforts for her?

coffeemachine Tue 04-Oct-16 17:45:54

I wouldn't be happy either.

Fwiw, my dad's swimming lessons are also in the deep end of the pool (2m) and have been from day 1 (with swimming aids obviously). Just wonder if this is the new way to teach.

DD was terrified of the water initially, would not even dip her toe in. Whilst waiting for lessons I took her 1-2 times week myself to get her used to the pool and actuallx enjoy the water.Made things alot easier when a 1:1 place came up.

coffeemachine Tue 04-Oct-16 17:46:39

DD's swimming lessons (not dad's)

eskimomama Tue 04-Oct-16 18:05:08

I thought it was straight from the 1980s... I have been thrown in by an instructor when I was 6-7 and it took me a year to overcome the trauma from it, so I can't imagine what it will be like for my DD who has autism.
The instructors I spoke with said nowadays they start teaching basic swimming techniques from the medium pool to make sure the kids have enough confidence before moving on to the big one. Which makes sense.

On Sunday we took her to her beloved water park for her birthday and for the first 30 min or so she was just terrified (which we had never seen before) and was clinging on to me or DH like a terrified little animal. Afterwards we managed to make her feel more secure but it took lots of cajoling and encouraging and she kept holding one of us, so it shows how badly it went with school.

Thanks for the idea of preparing the 1:1, I think I'll have no choice!

ilovesprouts Tue 04-Oct-16 18:09:52

My son has SN he users the school pool he can't go to the big pool out of school as he wears pads but he goes to swimming lessons every Sunday and he can swim he has some special needs swim shorts so he does not have any accidents he's 9 he's got stage one 5m 10m and 20m and a special one for treading water for ten minutes he loves it.

zzzzz Tue 04-Oct-16 19:07:32

Keep her home. Their set up is not acceptable to you.
Dd had 1:1 bit really learnt to swim on holiday with access to a pool every day. He LOVES it.

PolterGoose Tue 04-Oct-16 21:16:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

eskimomama Wed 05-Oct-16 08:51:05

Thanks guys. A mom from that class told me to let her go another time once her fingers are healed, and observe from the "parents window" from above... then I can make direct comments and suggestions. Not too keen on making DD suffer this crappy session again which will make her cry but that way I can make direct suggestions/complaints.

zzzzz Wed 05-Oct-16 10:27:56

Bloody fingers are enough to complain. Oh I feel angry for you both. HOW DARE THEY! angry

How would they feel if their day at work left them bleeding and scared?

eskimomama Wed 05-Oct-16 15:20:37

thanks zzzz. I'm quite angry at their complete lack of empathy and flexibility. Her fingertips are not just cut but actually scraped deeply - which they just washed with "soapy water" and used "old plasters" to cover. I've called the pool to ask how that was even possible at their facilities, they said she must have clung so badly "in between the tiles" ... shock
Again I'm the autism mom who does everything differently angry

LadyConstanceDeCoverlet Wed 05-Oct-16 16:20:32

If she were in the UK, that would be clear disability discrimination. Is there any similar legal provision where you are?

eskimomama Wed 05-Oct-16 20:39:27

ladyconstance she is already in a SN class so I'm afraid they would sneer at me if I mention this. Even though you are right, it is clearly a form of discrimination. I also need to be careful not to turn the teacher and staff against me as it would have a snowball effect against my DD.

MeirAya Fri 07-Oct-16 13:34:21

You shouldn't have to do this, but if you're really scared of rocking the boat...

could you ask to accompany her in the pool as an extra 'parent helper'?

eskimomama Sat 08-Oct-16 17:29:25

Thanks MeirAya this is something I've been thinking about actually. Because I'm sure they do nothing to calm her anxiety there.

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