Tags

, , , , ,

October is Sensory Processing Disorder Awareness Month

October is Sensory Processing Disorder Awareness Month

Swimming is what finally led us to our SPD diagnosis. My youngest has ALWAYS had problems with water. Every summer our attempts to help her learn to swim ourselves were a complete failure. We finally enrolled her in a “learn to swim” summer camp at the YMCA, which got her over the hump, and she could then at least swim well enough to not drown.

I was excited when both girls chose swimming as their fall sports activity. They used to do dance, but wanted to try something new. After experimenting with several summer camps, they both fell in love with swimming.

What actually happened though was my youngest WANTED to do swim lessons and  really enjoyed them, but absolutely refused to put her head in the water properly and do the breathing properly, etc. Which meant the Y would not “promote” her from the beginner class. She was upset about this because she did the stroke part very well, and her big sister was accepted to the swim team.

What did SPD look like for us, exactly?

She would say “I can’t” and shut down (and was seen as stubborn or defiant by first swim teacher, which is why we switched instructors). Thinking that perhaps my youngest didn’t understand the instructions was what let me to Google searching and to SPD in the first place. I had to take that info to our pediatrician myself and demand help, before we got referred to an OT for an evaluation. No one else caught it for us. (Listen to your gut, parents! Don’t let people brush off your concerns!!)

I had tried games like going under to pick rings off bottom, and slowly trying to go under bit by bit, and more. She wouldn’t blow bubbles for more than a second – she would blow a little, then stop and come back up. So the traditional approaches just did not work.

I began to work with the Y to help her on their side. On of the most amazing things about the local YMCA was their “Ability” Special Needs program. The Coordinator instantly knew what to do. We first started with getting our youngest assigned to a special needs trained swim instructor (Previous instructors were an abject failure).

We also purchased a few things to see if they might help. The Y Ability Coordinator suggested trying a swim headband and maybe a tight long-sleeve swim shirt. We purchased Ear Bandit with putty buddies, but my SPDer couldn’t stand stuff IN her ears. We had to do quite a bit of trial and error.

 

20170112_171016

Ear Band-Its were one of the many products we tried. After a while, we just used the swim cap and made sure the cap  covered her ears.

 

We also tried a swim cap which did work, but she didn’t like wearing it. We also purchased very nice goggles, and those worked well for her.

 

20160923_165842.jpg

High Quality Goggles and Swim Cap are now our Go-To.

 

Other things that I noticed: the indoor heated pool was was a much better environment for her as she was extremely sensitive to cold. However, that room echoed very bad and was extremely loud, so we switched her lessons to a different day when it was less crowded and quieter.

 

20170411_180042

What looks like “FUN” to other kids can be a literal HELL for an SPD kid.

 

Her group was intentionally kept small with no more than 5-6 kids, and an additional aide was added. The aide was there to shadow and assist my youngest, but publicly to any parents that asked, the aide was “in training,” so it wasn’t obvious in calling attention that my youngest was receiving specialized help. (That might not be a big deal to some parents, but I found to comforting that they were respecting my child’s feelings and her privacy.) After a few months, we also added in another weekly, private session.

 

20170119_162233

This was WITHIN WEEKS of starting agressive therapy and making changes to her swim class.

 

Her group was intentionally kept small with no more than 5-6 kids, and an additional aide was added. The aide was there to shadow and assist my youngest, but publicly to any parents that asked, the aide was “in training,” so it wasn’t obvious in calling attention that my youngest was receiving specialized help. (That might not be a big deal to some parents, but I found to comforting that they were respecting my child’s feelings and her privacy.) After a few months, we also added in another weekly, private session.

 

20170420_164521

We found that even a cheap “sun shirt” helped her deal with the splashing of the water while swimming.

 

I want to point out that the accommodations we implemented were not changing the rules or giving her special privileges or special treatment. Our youngest DOES have SPD, but she also has to learn to live within society. I did not ask them to change their level “promotion standards.” What we are trying to do is merely give her some tools that will help her cope and build her skills so she can promote fairly.

From talking to other parents of SPDers, I know I am not alone in this water struggle.

Here are a few articles that I found interesting and useful.

http://dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk/dyspraxia-children/pe-lessons/

http://dyspraxiafoundation.org.uk/dyspraxia-children/swimming-instructors-guide/

https://www.sensoryswim.com/sensory-processing-disorder

I just want to give you all some hope: six months after her diagnosis and starting therapy, our SPDer had “promoted” twice, was learning to jump off the diving platform, had bypassed her older sister in skill level, and told ME she no longer needed the aide in her class.

This fall, we did decide not to pursue the actual swim team (this also coincided with our move, so it would be different instructors) because of the amount amount of kids at swim team practice in an indoor facility, and the highly competitive (not in a good way) nature in our new town. I do plan to bring individual swim lessons back into the mix in the future.

And one year after beginning this journey – here is my SPDer, on the beach, being splashed by waves. AND LOVING IT.

 

2017-09-27 14.15.01

October 2017, at the Beach (on the right)

 

This will  be an ongoing series chronicling our experiences with Sensory Processing Disorder. I am in NO WAY an expert! Please read and use at your own risk. 🙂

Advertisements