The girls love swimming so when I found out about a gym near our new house that has a therapy pool we had to check it out. Emma has a hard time regulating her body temperature which makes swimming during the non-summer months a challenge. Even in a heated pool she turns purple pretty quickly - usually within 15 minutes and has to get out.
The gym is attached to a hospital and they use the therapy pool for some PT sessions and it's usually around 88 or 89 degrees, perfect swimming water for Emma. It's also fairly shallow and ranges in depth from around 3 feet to 5 feet making it the perfect pool for Julia. After our trial period, me and the girls joined. We've gone several times and decided that Julia would benefit from private swim lessons since she is very close to swimming. The aquatic team has an instructor that is trained and certified to teach swimming to children with disabilities and once we found out Julia was matched with that instructor for lessons we signed Emma up for one.
Julia is doing really well in the pool. She can swim a long distance underwater, kick her legs appropriately and swim with a noodle in deeper water. She is very lean, though, so her body wants to sink instead of float and Miss Tia is doing a great job of teaching her technique and floating. Plus, she is very funny and Julia has a ball during her swim lessons. According to Miss Tia, Julia is well on her way to being a swimmer. Here is the best photo I have of Julia because she did a lot of underwater swimming the day I brought my camera.
Emma was signed up for one lesson, but we liked how it went so signed her up for the full 7 week session like Julia. Miss Tia was completely comfortable with Emma in the water and quickly figured out her amazing ability to pay attention to everything going on around her and not so much to what is happening right in front of her. Then she figured out a way to keep Emma's attention on her and follow a few instructions - no easy task considering Emma can't wear her CIs in the water and she has an even worse attention span when she can't hear!
The main focus of the early lessons will be on breath control. Making sure that Emma knows to hold her breath if her head goes under the water and to try and get her to breath out. Emma doesn't blow bubbles or blow outside of the pool, so I'm not sure about this goal but Miss Tia said Emma is trying and we'll see if she is successful.
She is also working with Emma pushing off her hands so she can learn that her body will move in one direction or the other based on her movements. She even was able to get her arms all stretched out and then Emma would pull them to her body and she would move which I find amazing since I can't get that to happen! Our focus is mostly for back swimming. And Emma is either held the whole time or uses a floatation device - we have the Danmar swimming collar and use this for the last 5 or 10 minutes of the lesson.
This is not aquatic therapy, but rather swim lessons. It's pretty fun, actually, to have Emma in her own swim lesson that isn't therapy but sort of is therapy at the same time if you know what I mean. Miss Tia can't promise that she'll be able to get Emma swimming independently and I think that is more of a long term goal. Right now keeping her head out of the water (neck control, Emma!) and knowing to hold her breath if her head goes under, along with working on trying to stop her from arching her back so much would make me really happy. Emma has so much fun in the pool and really has shown an interest in wanting to move/swim but I need guidance on how to help her make this happen. Miss Tia is doing a great job of showing me new things to try with Emma in the water and it's made swimming even more fun.
I'm so happy we were able to find a truly inclusive swim program that works for us and an instructor that seems to be a great match for both girls. I'm looking forward to seeing how they are doing in the water at the end of the 7 week session.