Summer dreams make me feel fine…

June 14, 2011 at 1:50 pm 19 comments

     It was with great trepidation that we signed C up for swim team this year. Our club has a program where the inexperienced swimmers can be on a junior team where they all get ribbons and no one gets disqualified. We’ve had little success with these types of experiences before; karate (twice) was a disaster, golf lessons with a large group were worthless, cub scouts lasted one week, and all I can say is I’m glad C has never really wanted to do little league, because the thought of that experience makes me want to run screaming into the outfield. Generally these types of experiences are too unstructured, have too many kids, and are too chaotic for C to handle well. He runs around like a wild child, completely out of control and overstimulated, and then comes home exhausted and out of sorts for hours.

     But swim team. Swim team. Basically, swim team – for me – means summer. I started swim team when I was barely five, and didn’t stop until a college without a swim team sort of forced me to. Swim team defined my childhood. I know better than to think C will follow in my footsteps, but I also know swimming would be good for him. He enjoyed the pool we had in Arizona; that is, once we actually got his little face in the pool. Then he became a fish. He loves the water and moves through it in his own unique way that is both effective and entertaining at the same time.

     The first day of practice, I was dismayed to see 35-40 kids, most of whom were about 6 years old, wiggling around and waiting for the coach to get started. It was chaotic at best, insanity at worst. There was much standing in line and downtime; generally the kiss of death for C. I watched as other boys, years younger than him, somehow managed to gang up on him within minutes of practice beginning. I had to intervene at least five times, and by the end of practice I had decided there was simply no way we could continue.

     I approached the coach after practice to explain why we wouldn’t be back. Too many kids and too much downtime, I rehearsed in my head, so as not to sound as though I thought the coach was somehow to blame for the situation. I started the conversation by telling him C has Aspergers, and did he know what was? “No,” he said clearly sensing that AS involved something that would make swim team challenging. “But what can I do to make C successful?”

     “What can I do to make C successful?” Seriously? I was stunned. I hadn’t even told him of my decision yet, and he was already trying to keep us there. I honestly can’t recall the last time – if ever – someone has said something like that to me. Here’s this coach, basically a kid himself with 35 overactive kids on his hands, wanting to figure out how to keep C on board. I explained a little bit of the problem, and his next comment was even better. “I can rearrange things so he’ll be more comfortable. We will do whatever we need to do.”

     It was only because of this conversation that C happily, and successfully, competed in his first swim meet last Saturday. I have the video to prove it. Thanks, coach.

Entry filed under: autism. Tags: , , , , , , , .

Let’s give him something to talk about In case you haven’t figured it out…

19 Comments Add your own

  • 1. goodfountain  |  June 14, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Wow, that is absolutely fabulous! I am impressed with the coach. I hope this is successful all summer!!

  • 2. Becky Carpenter  |  June 14, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    This isn’t a little ray of sunshine, is it? I think the whole darn sun came beaming through. Hooray for C!!!!!

  • 3. Shivon  |  June 14, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    * tears* how wonderful!

  • 4. momfog  |  June 14, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    That is so great. “Organized” sports are always such a hassle for my son. We’re attempting football in the fall. I hope the coach is half as wonderful.

  • 5. Blog from the Windowsill  |  June 14, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Awesome! We’ve given up on swim lessons for my son, he just doesn’t enjoy them. Perhaps we’ll find a different school.

  • 6. kim  |  June 14, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    Yay!!! This is great! So happy to read this!

  • 7. LizCoyne  |  June 15, 2011 at 4:03 am

    Such good news! A young coach already becoming a seasoned leader. Hi-hopes for the swim meets!

  • 8. Bruce (born 2b me)  |  June 19, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Wow, that coach is amazing.

  • 9. Erica  |  June 20, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    Yes, tears in my eyes too. God, that’s fantastic. I can’t even imagine how it must have felt when the coach said those words instead of the unfortunate but not unexpected “don’t-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-way-out” sendoff, given the circumstances. Go, C, go! Swim your heart out!

  • 10. Angie  |  June 23, 2011 at 8:09 am

    That brought tears to my eyes! Love that coach and I love that C is doing his thang:) And way to go you for giving it a chance!! Hugs!!

  • 11. John Ashy  |  June 25, 2011 at 8:52 am

    Yeah C! Yeah coach! And yeah mom!

  • 12. robinaltman  |  June 25, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    That’s so wonderful! What a great coach! Love him! Go C!

  • 13. michele  |  June 26, 2011 at 2:41 am

    just found your blog. Thankyou for writing so well on this topic close to my heart

  • 14. Stephen Lursen  |  June 28, 2011 at 7:36 am

    Thank you so much for including me in your life! C is a really cool guy and we all love having him on the team. 🙂
    p.s. – it may help that I played pokemon for 5 or so years myself. Hahaha

  • 15. Lizbeth  |  July 1, 2011 at 10:53 am

    I mean this in the nicest way possible–I want to steal your coach!!!

    Seriously I’m glad you found this man. He sounds like a true gem.

  • 16. Patty  |  July 3, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    I’m dumbstruck. Wow, just wow. That is so, so cool! If only all coaches, teachers, Sunday school teachers and cup scout leaders were like this swim coach! I know I’d be a lot happier!

  • 17. Wendy  |  July 6, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Go C! so happy for you all!

  • 18. Lisa Givens  |  July 19, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Did you hear that C won an award at the end of year swim party? Wish he could have been there to receive it!

  • 19. Victoria from Arizona  |  August 14, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    “What can I do to make C successful?” I am crying as I type this – so happy for C and so relieved for you.


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