Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘Water


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Corkscrew (tool)

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Yesterday evening I was sitting on the bench watching Pudding swim.  Now, when I say swim I might not mean what you think I mean, so allow me to clarify.  Pudding was in the pool, vertically, and moving in the water from the direction of her teacher to the side as directed.

And when I say moving in the water, I might not mean what you think I mean, so allow me to clarify.  She was twisting around in a spiral, but rather than staying in one place, each twist took her closer to where she wanted to go.

Both her instructor and I were amazed, and bemused.  This aquatic pirouette was like no swim stroke you’ve ever seen, and yet Pudding was in control, and going where she needed to.  She had taken swimming and made it her own.  More importantly, she was having fun with it.

“What is this?”  I asked her teacher.  She shrugged, smiling.  I decided to call it The Corkscrew.  It is no butterfly, crawl, or breaststroke.  But it is hers.

I got to thinking, as I sat on that bench, that the corkscrew is quite appropriate for our heroine.  Most of us are straight lines.  When we are swimming through the great sea of life, we apply strokes that everyone recognizes.  We cut through the water quickly and efficiently.  It is so natural and ordinary that we can’t even conceive it could be difficult for others.

Still others of us have a couple of kinks.  We look straight enough to the casual observer, but on closer inspection you might find that the motion is a little off.  We get to the side without huge problems, but it isn’t quite as easy as it should be.

There are corkscrews like Pudding.  Sometimes, when I watch her, I wonder if she isn’t more tightly coiled.  I think it must be impossible to swim like that.  Is she just going round in circles?  How long will it take her to get to the side?

Sometimes I have to take a deep breath.  I need to remind myself that it isn’t race.  She isn’t struggling in the water.  In fact, she looks to be having the time of her life.  She doesn’t need to be towed along.  She doesn’t need to be rescued.

Today was one of those days where I needed to remember that her stroke is unique and beautiful.  It doesn’t look like what I think it should.  But she is swimming, and she doesn’t have to go in a straight line to get to the other side.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

March 2, 2012 at 4:13 pm

The Mermaid Swims

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I’ve written many times about how alluring water is to Pudding, how she finds peace pouring and bathing in the stuff.  But the problem for my mermaid is safety.  We have a pool, as do many of the homes here.  The number of deaths of foreign service children by drowning used to far exceed those of the general population, and anti-climb fences have reduced those grim statistics in recent years, but for an impulsive child who doesn’t fear the water, and can move a chair to a different room and unlock doors, we can’t afford to take chances.  Every time I looked out at the pool and the potential for danger, my breath was caught as I thought about the potential danger.

This had to be our project over the summer holiday.  The problem is, I’m not the strongest of swimmers.  My own techniques aren’t so great, and it took me a really long time to learn how to swim.  I wasn’t going to be the best teacher.  And Pudding, with her attention problems and sensorimotor challenges, isn’t the easiest of people to teach.  Fortunately, I found a children’s swimming instructor nearby who is also a physiotherapist- a perfect match!  Unfortunately our schedules only permitted four one-on-one sessions.  Still, I hoped to pick up tips from her that we could use at home, now that it is hot enough to go swimming outdoors.

Pudding took to her new teacher instantly, but still had huge problems following her directions and resisting her impulses.  We agreed the most important (and most difficult) task, was to tackle these challenges, by playing to her strengths.  Pudding likes songs and has a great memory, so her teacher adapted rhymes like Humpty-Dumpty to promote safely getting into the water.  By the end of the first lesson, she could doggy paddle a very short distance unaided, and was learning to wait until told to enter the pool.  Okay, she wasn’t so good at that part.

On the second session, Pudding had no interest in repeating her efforts from the week before.  Somebody had found her buoyancy, to our delight!  She adored the feeling of floating on her back, but her vestibular issues kept her from leaning far enough back.  This time her teacher used Pop Goes the Weasel to flip from her front to her back, and then back again.  Things were starting to come together!

That same week we went on an overnight trip to a man-made beach resort/water-park called Valley of the Waves.  Apparently half the country had the same idea.  It was packed and crowded, so instead of relying on her developing water skills, I put Pudding back in her swim vest.  By the time we were all getting swept off our feet by six foot waves, I was glad I made that call.

However, when we returned for her next lesson, she couldn’t find her buoyancy.  The artificial support of the swim vest interfered with her ability to sense when she was floating.  But then, when were we ever discouraged by taking a step back?  (Don’t answer that one).  We moved on to the challenge of submerging her head under water, a task we were able to reproduce every evening when she took a bath.

Wednesday was her last one-on-one lesson.  We’ll move to a small group class with other children with disabilities from next week.  She’ll also be going back to school next week, and I’m not sure how she’ll cope with extra distractions at the end of a busy day.

I knew it was time for me to take that leap off the diving board and continue working on things at home.  That day, while Cubby was taking a nap, we went in our small pool at home.  Just like with her teacher, we practiced all the components, using the same rhymes and rules for safety.  She sat by the side of the pool until we sang the song together to enter.  We played Finding Nemo with the poor old bath toy who no longer floats.  I was more comfortable teaching her, as she was learning.

Then it happened: she swam, unaided, the width of our pool!  She did it again, and again.  We’ve been in that pool together every day since, and she grows stronger every time.  She is a long way from using breaststroke or front crawl, but believe me when I say she has her own grace.  She might have needed a little extra support, and I might have needed to learn how best to give it to her, but this is another huge thing crossed off that list of things she can’t do.  A list that grows shorter every day.

The mermaid swims, which means I can breathe a little easier.


Written by Spectrummy Mummy

January 6, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Wordless Wednesday 20 Jul 11

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We can never pass by one of these without drinking from it.

Happy Wordless Wednesday Everyone!

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

July 20, 2011 at 7:19 am

Wordless Wednesday 15 Jun 11

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When pouring water is combined with victimizing her (willing) brother, a happy Pudding ensues.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

June 15, 2011 at 7:19 am


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The morning started out fine.  Pudding didn’t try to get in our bed until right before the alarm went off at 5.30.  I got to enjoy most of my cup of tea in bed, the two of them sitting peacefully together watching Sesame Street.  Pudding demanded pancakes for breakfast, and I agreed to make them.  So right up until 7, it was a perfect morning.  I had Pudding washed and dressed and ready for school.

Then I decided to take a shower.

I felt the warm tingle on my skin, heard the hum of the water hitting the tiles, closed my eyes and meditated on the simplest of life’s luxuries.  It is a good place to just be, there have been many times I’ve taken that 5 minutes and let my stress wash away down the drain.  But it comes at a price.  Either there is banging on the door, and screaming, or- worse- the sound of silence.  Sometimes I don’t know what scene will greet me as I emerge soaked.  One thing for sure, I haven’t taken a shower in peace for a very long time.  Today there was no pounding on the door.  I grabbed my robe and headed downstairs.

Before I even saw it, I knew it would be the pouring.  Pudding’s stim of all stims.  She loves to pour from one vessel to another.  It is the reason why we have long baths with lots of cups, why we play on the sand & water table for hours, why in bad weather we’ll pour water together at the table.  But it is never enough for her.  We’ve put child-proof handles on doors to stop her getting to the taps (faucets) for more water.  We have to swipe away every item that could become a pouring vessel before she gets the idea.  Our kitchen is a galley one, with no doors, so we put up gates on either end, and a lock on the fridge door.

You’d think that would be enough.

A gate was pushed down, and the fridge door wide open.  The tap was still running with water all over the kitchen floor.  Cubby was carrying a cup, and the minute he saw me he deliberately turned it upside-down.  Pudding was on the carpet in the dining room, trying to mop up a pink stain.  It was the very expensive liquid omega supplement we give the kids because they can’t eat fish, and is also gluten and dairy-free.  It is also in her hair, and her clothes.

I don’t even recognize my own voice as I start yelling.  It is low and deep.  Full of rage.  The kids are terrified of course.  I usher them upstairs.  I strip Pudding of her clothes and give her new ones.  I take her Abby doll, and tell her she can’t leave the room until I get back.  I go down to clean up as best I can.

When I return, she is still naked, no longer in her room, but at the basin in mine.  Water.  Again.

She begins to sob as soon as she sees me.  She attempts to apologize, but she is incoherent through her tears.  She knows she is wrong, but she just can’t help this impulsive, compulsive behaviour.  No social story, no punishment seems to work.  Positive reinforcement works until I’m not around.  I feel like I’ve tried everything, and I don’t know what else to do.

I just hold in more anger, waiting for my time to pour it out.  One thing is certain, I can no longer let it wash away in the shower.

I wrote this earlier this morning, but decided not to post it.  I felt better for writing it, and don’t need a reminder of this morning for posterity.  Then, the SPD Bloggger Network published this post of mine, and I was reminded of Pudding’s connection with water.  It makes her feel right, and I take that feeling for granted every day.  Instead, I welcome any sensory suggestions for Pudding’s water craving.  I think we’ll start again with a morning bath, at the very least.  As important as a shower is to me, water means everything to her.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

May 27, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Hope Floats

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I’ve been taking Pudding to an adapted aquatics class on Sundays.  We can’t really afford the added expense of the weekly lesson, but she loves the water.  We’re doing just one session until our community pool opens for the summer.  They recently filled up this pool, so every time we go to the playground, she stares in at the tempting water and begs to go in.  Every time I tell her she can’t yet, but we’ll go on Sunday.  So she moves on to trying to extort a treat from me, but I’m no sucker.  Or so I think.

As usual, we were in a rush to get our things together and get out on Sunday.  Traffic was horrendous, so I was relieved to get to the pool on time.  I helped her strip out of clothes, and into the top part of her swimsuit.  Then I looked for her bottoms.

They weren’t in the bag.

I frantically pulled everything out of the bag.  Nope.  I’d forgotten them.  I couldn’t believe it.

Now I had to tell her.

She listened.  Her little bottom lip pulled south, and her eyes pooled with tears.

“I want to go swim.”

It was calm, but I knew it was just the beginning of a dive into hysterics.

I felt wretched.

“Pudding, Mummy, is so so sorry.  I know how much you wanted to go swimming.  This is all my fault.  I forgot your swimsuit.  We can go home, and then go out for ice cream (sorbet)  as a special treat.  I promise.  Would you like that?”

“I want to go swim.”

I drew pitying looks from every mother in the changing room.  Everyone has done something like this, I felt their empathy.  But I also knew that with a kid like mine, the stakes were higher.  She wasn’t going to get over it.  This was the beginning of the end of the day for us.

And then, one of the volunteer “swim buddies” and angel in a black costume appeared, offering me the use of a borrowed costume.  Pudding snatched it with an unprompted(!) thank you, and I breathlessly wished her as many blessings as I could muster.  Pudding had already stepped into the costume before I had a chance to think about how icky a borrowed costume might be.

We dashed to the class only a couple of minutes late, and Pudding soon returned to where she belongs.  I got my weekly treat of seeing floating happiness.  As I went to thank Pudding’s swim buddy (a different volunteer), she cut me off, and thanked me, saying she had never met anyone who loved being in the water so much as my girl, and it was a pleasure to be with her.

After we got changed, I rinsed and returned the borrowed costume to the life-saving lady.  Pudding thanked her.  The lady asked if she’d had a good time swimming.

“Yes.  And now we get ice cream.  Mummy, let’s get ice cream!  With Cubby.  And Daddy.”

Well, Mummy did mess up, and a promise is a promise.  Can’t help but wonder how those bottoms vanished from the bag though, when everything turned out just how she’d hoped.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

May 3, 2011 at 7:03 am


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Last week I was sent an email to see if Pudding would like to go swimming with Miss Arizona.

Pudding + swimming = yes.  The kid loves water.

Then I quickly checked with the coordinator for details.  It turns out there was going to be “swim buddies” and I wouldn’t have to get into the water.  Phew.  I have healthy self-esteem, but I also have an unhealthy appetite for sweets, and I’m not exactly swimsuit ready.  I’m especially not in a swimsuit next to a Miss America contestant ready!  🙂

The birthday boy stayed at home with his grandparents, so I just got to sit back and watch.  And because for once I wasn’t juggling two kids with very different sensory needs, I got to really see it.  How different she is in the water.  It isn’t just that she is more attentive, and coordinated, it isn’t just that she is more social…it is that she is where she belongs.

She fits.

She is at peace.

She is right.

I watched her play games, follow directions, and swim races.  I got to watch her be a regular kid, doing ordinary kid things with some other extraordinary children, and the wonderful volunteers who truly care.

Really though, it was the smile on her face that did me in.  It made me curse my lack of scales and fishy tail.  That smile was luring me to the water to join her.  Where she belongs.  Because on dry land she doesn’t seem to fit in.

She is disturbed by the war on her senses.

She feels all wrong.

She is the fish out of water.  No wonder she feels the call of the sea.

If I’d have brought my costume, I’d have dived in to be with her.  I wouldn’t have cared about being juxtaposed with a beauty queen, my mermaid was so bewitching I thought of nothing but her radiant smile.

As it was, I didn’t have my costume with me, and I sat at the poolside until I was joined by a man I’d never met.  He introduced himself as Bob Pizzano, the man behind the water safety program that responsible for this event and Pudding’s trip to the pool with her S.M.I.L.E. program.  We chatted about the amazing new sprayground that will open in May, where kids of all abilities with a love of the water will be able to play side by side.  We discussed the goals of their program, and what they had already achieved.  Lastly we talked about the dark side of the attraction to water that some kids like Pudding have.  His own developmentally delayed son, Joey, tragically drowned, and the family subsequently created The Joey Pizzano Memorial Fund,a foundation to honour his life, improve the lives of other special needs children and their families, and help prevent such tragedies from happening again.

I was at a loss for words to express both my sorrow at his loss, and the gratitude I felt for his dedication to families like ours.  In the end he was called away to talk to somebody much more important, but the last thing he spoke of was how much he had enjoyed seeing my girl’s smile.  Only this morning did I find these words on his foundation’s site:

Joey had a bright smile, hearty laugh and a love of life that touched many people’s lives. Joey loved his family, he loved the water and he loved to swim. The Pizzano family wanted to celebrate Joey’s life through the foundation in hopes that his smile would be seen through the faces of other children with disabilities enjoying the water and their families.

I’m still at a loss for words, so I’ll leave it to the mermaid’s smile.  This one is for you, Mr. Pizzano:

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

March 29, 2011 at 9:25 am