When people just get it

Little Legs has been going to a pre-school (Ducklings) swimming class since late September. At the time we were offered the place, we weren’t sure whether it was too soon. She had only been home for about ten weeks and was showing lots of separation anxiety from me.

But we decided to give it a go and see what happened. I spoke to the swimming coordinator and explained enough detail for her to make sense of Little Legs’ story and she asked for permission to share what I had shared with the swimming teacher who would be teaching the class.

So Little Legs started her swimming lessons.

Some of her delays and difficulties of unknown cause have been low muscle tone, joint hypermobility and significant fatigue. All of these are likely to be connected, but as yet those testing her have found no cause. ‘Unknown Aetiology’. So we work with what we are seeing.

Morning swimming lessons have helped when trying to manage her fatigue. We don’t do anything of significance before her lesson. We come home afterwards and she has her dummy and snuggles on the settee to watch some ‘therapeutic recovery tv’!

She has gained enough muscle strength and core tone to be able to climb out of the pool unaided. A task that was impossible when she started her lessons.

Her teacher is able to spot and manage Little Legs’ behaviour without me having to worry when she is having a ‘fizzy’ day.

She has made some lovely little friends in her class and has loved to laugh and splash and race them during her lessons.

We did for a fair while have absolute meltdowns on our return home from swimming. The combination of holding it in, doing something so physically exhausting and having to concentrate on instructions took its toll.

I briefly thought about stopping the lessons not long ago, when she was simply refusing to do anything other than slide into the pool and swim widths with her arm floats on. She was just not compliant with anything her teacher was asking (jumping in, putting her face in the water, sitting safely on the side of the pool to wait her turn- all of which she had previously done without objection).

Mr Six thankfully reminded me firmly that we had started the lessons to give Little Legs the chance to develop physically. Which she still was doing.

And so today she had her last Ducklings lesson. She is 4 1/2 and they have been fab at letting her stay in the Ducklings class as she does not attend school, despite technically being too old. The timing of the class (mid morning) has been perfect for her and the small class ratio (4:1) has been fab for increasing her confidence.

But after speaking with the swimming coordinator, we agreed that it is time for her to move up. It was at my instigation. And partly due to the fact that her teacher is not working over the summer holidays, so she will have a change of teacher anyway.

Last week after our conversation, the swimming coordinator took Little Legs poolside to introduce her to the teachers who will be in the water with her in her new class. This morning she went to her last Ducklings class and worked so hard, doing everything asked of her, with a huge smile on her face and lots of thumbs ups to everyone around!

This afternoon, Little Legs will go for her first lesson in Wave One. The class ration is 10:2, with both teachers being in the water. Technically she shouldn’t be starting until next week. But the swimming staff want to get her in the water as soon as possible so she doesn’t get overly anxious in between her last Ducklings lesson and her first Wave One lesson.

I will get her ready later and then hand her over to the swimming coordinator (who she now adores), who will sit poolside with her for fifteen minutes. Little Legs will do half a lesson today. Just a taster. And then we will take it as it comes. Next week she can stay in for the whole lesson. Or get out at half way. Or I can sit by the pool and watch if needed.

I am so thankful for the adults in Little Legs’ world who are out to make life and transitions easier for her and who work hard and creatively to lessen her anxieties and fears.

We’ll see what this afternoon brings!

2 thoughts on “When people just get it

  1. It is so important for people to understand the difficulties our children may face and deal with them sympathetically. My husband and I are early on in our adoption process but one point bought up on a training recently was who to tell what to and like you (and as a professional who works with children) I feel it is only fair for the adults who interact with our children to get why they may respond differently and need more support in certain situations but that this does require us to share their whole story. This is such a positive story, thanks for sharing it and good luck to Little Legs in her new class x

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