Beth’s school is doing swimming at the moment and I made the mistake of going to watch today. I’m always a bit delusional about my kids, I have a vivid imagination and always fantasize about how well they’re doing and people secretly watching them, and thinking how amazing they are. I remember going to a counsellor when I gave up drinking five years ago, saying how worried I was about what people thought of me. His words stay with me to this day “You’re not as important to other people as you think you are.” I of course chose to ignore these wise words and believe that not only am I incredibly important to all but that so are my children. This has it’s downsides. For example, if you choose to believe that people are watching you thinking what a wonderful parent you are you then have to believe that they also think that you’re a crap parent when you do something that isn’t so nice. Of course the counsellors words were right. After all I don’t think of other people much at all so why would they be thinking about me!  Anyway, I digress…….

I took Beth to school and as it was raining people were running late and they had to leave for the pool. I offered to drive her to the pool which is just around the corner from school as I was thinking I’d go and watch. I noticed after all the kids were in their groups that Beth was in the ones who were the least capable. Beth did swimming from a baby until last year so she knows how to swim, quite well in fact. She can do the breathing and arms but the problem is that she has to feel like doing it at the time. She loves the water so much that she jumps up and down a lot, often lying in the water or putting her head under when she’s standing. It’s so difficult to get her attention at times, then when she swims well it looks out of character as it’s like she has no idea. I coped with that ok. I got that they had to assess on behaviour and she was in a group class instead of the one on one that she used to get.

The other thing that happened was probably a small thing and I’m not going to let it get to me. One of the teachers asked me to go and get a child who was in another group having their play before their lessons. He was meant to be having his lesson instead. It took a while for the staff to know who the boy was and the first teacher came over and walked back with me. She explained that with the new kids it sometimes took a while to get to know all their names. She added, “unless they’re naughty ones”, smiling. I laughed back and said that they all seem to know Beth. As she was saying “unless they’re naughty ones” at the same time she then added “or slow.” Then she laughed and added “or really tall.” I half laughed and said “Well I’d rather tall than slow” and she said “absolutely” and it was left at that. Now I’m a bit of a dweller when it comes to things like that and I’m also incredibly oversensitive.  I guess I have to think about what the word slow means. Beth is very slow to pick up cues, slow to walk, slow to even answer questions. In fact she’s slow in most things, she just goes at her own pace and doesn’t really care if she’s not ‘with the program’ ‘cos she’s comfortable the way she is. So as a descriptive word it’s probably a good one for Beth. I think my problem is that in my mind the word slow means stupid. And maybe that’s my problem, maybe that’s not how other people look at it at all. So I’m going to let it go.

I watched the rest of the lesson and the play. Beth was oblivious to everybody else most of the time. All the kids were playing with each other and Beth was like a dolphin, under the water most of the time and coming up for air once in a while, only to go back under. I went to watch to see her interacting with her peers and it just wasn’t there. But you know what, she was perfectly happy doing what she was doing. She had a great time, doing her own thing. I just half wish I hadn’t gone. Sometimes I think it’s better to be oblivious, to believe what you want to believe. Because once you see the reality it’s hard to go back into your fantasy land.

About Sarah

Mother of an autistic child wanting to write about my personal experiences
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6 Responses to Swimming

  1. Shez says:

    Our children must be at the same school 🙂 as my son’s class went swimming today. Just thought I would reply from the swimming teacher side of things…… I am saddened that someone said something like that to you and I hope it was only intended as slow speed to move but even that shouldn’t of been mentioned…. I have to say that I have the same difficulty as the teacher you mention – remembering names…. I am so glad to hear that you went to see her swim as she will remember you were there for her and you can share the whole swimming experience with her…. Some children don’t like to show what they are capable of in schools swimming classes…. and if there is limited teachers sometimes good swimmers get stuck in lower classes cause they can only have a certain number of children per class but in saying that they should still be challenging her learning….

  2. Liz W says:

    Hi Sarah, I disagree. I think it is important to go if you can. My 2 children attend a special school and very often parents dont turn up for events like this. Many of the kids have such disappointed looks on their faces when their parents or carers don’t show up. My 2 kids have ASD and interacting wiht their peers is not something they do well either. They are happy just to be playing alongside them. Sounds like your little girl was having fun in the pool.

  3. Sarah says:

    she was indeed and really I am happy that I went. I just think I sometimes have expectations in my head that aren’t necessarily true. It’s my issue, not hers, as you say, she had fun and that’s what’s important. Thanks for reading!

  4. Sarah says:

    I’m sure that she didn’t mean anything by it. She did continue on with the tall comment so maybe she didn’t mean Beth at all! I am glad that I went too, Beth did enjoy me being there. There are indeed limited teachers, it must be so difficult to have a big group of challenging kids and one teacher so I understand why. I wonder if they are at the same school? Beth just started this year, I don’t want to say the name of the school but it’s just got a new campus that she’s at?

  5. Liz W says:

    Guessing , guessing, a new campus- is it an autism specific school in Melbourne with its own swimming pool?

  6. Sarah says:

    haha sorry no it’s not. It’s a special school and the swimming pool is down the road

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