Tag Archives: swimming

Speaking of Swimming – Capturing Language Opportunities at the Swimming Pool

Well, it’s April, which means it’s officially summer (at least here in the Texas Hill Country, that is).  Here summer lasts, oh, about 7 months.  We don’t really know what spring or fall are.

So last week we found ourselves at the swimming pool.  Noah (7 – with Down syndrome) loves the water, and it seems to really open the door to speech to have him in the water.  This apraxia thing is a real booger.  The more he concentrates, the harder he tries, the more his speech falls apart, it seems.  So to have him engrossed in the water creates enough of a distraction that we often get good speech production.

In the water with Noah, I captured every speech opportunity I could, and I want to share some of that with you.

I have 3 Littles who are not swimming independently yet, so I lined them up on the side of the pool while the 3 Middles played in the water in the middle of the pool.

First I had the Littles kick with their feet in the water.  I gave each of them a turn to say “kick” whereupon they would commence to kicking and then “stop” when they would all stop.  A great thing about kids – they don’t demand perfect enunciation or pronunciation.  Noah just had to attempt to say kick or stop, and the others performed on cue.  Very powerful stuff for a little boy who is still deciding just how important speech is to him.

Then it was Noah’s turn to come into the pool.  He practiced signing and saying “I want in water.”  (I said most of those words along with him.)

Once we were in the water, he was happy to say “water” when I asked him what we were in.  He also said “go” to get me to move.  We worked on blowing bubbles in the water, which he loved so much, he was happy to practice saying “more bubbles.”  For this, I asked him, “Do you want more bubbles?”  He said “yes”, and I told him, “Then say more bubbles.” And on cue he said, “More bubbles.”

He gets mighty bold and likes to show off in the water, so I took advantage of this by having him call out to his siblings by name.

When he did something well, I cued him to say “Yay.”

Noah likes me to hold him close in the pool, so although I would push him to kick and paddle with a little distance between the two of us, when I was ready to pull him closer, I verbally prompted him to say, “Hold me.”

Then when it was time to get out and let another Little have a turn, I prompted Noah to say “out.”

When his turn came around again, Noah practiced phrases like “My turn” and “I want in.”

Best case scenario, Noah would be working with a speech therapist in the water.  Next best thing – that would be me.  🙂

How about you?  Are you finding good opportunities for speech sessions in unusual settings?



Just Keep Swimming, Swimming, Swimming . . .

Guess what Noah’s been up to the last couple weeks?

Noah Swim Lessons Face Front

Swim lessons!

Since we’ll be living in our new house EVENTUALLY, and said new house comes complete with a wet weather creek, it’s pretty important that our courageous hero learns how to swim.  I wasn’t sure what to expect seeing how he has always been afraid of the water and only comes in with me with a huge amount of coaxing.  His gymnastics instructor suggested I talk to the YMCA aquatics director and tell him about Noah and see what his suggestions were.  Between being afraid of the water and having Down syndrome, we all figured Noah might need a little extra finessing.  We agreed to let him try a group lesson with me on standby, and if he wasn’t catching on or was taking away from the other kids in the class, the Y would see about getting him some private lessons at a discount.  I LOVED that they were so willing to work with me and were already thinking of alternatives if Plan A didn’t work out.

I guess it helped that two out of three of the other kids in the class were Noah’s siblings, but Noah did GREAT!!!  He did so great he had his teacher wrapped around his little finger by the middle of Lesson 2.  Have you ever noticed how children with Down syndrome have a fabulous laugh?  It’s hearty and infectious.  It’s also extremely effective in manipulating everybody within hearing distance.  Noah had such a good time with his instructor; even when it was somebody else’s turn to swim, he leapt into her arms and laughed and laughed.  At first she tried to be the tough guy, but pretty soon she was laughing right along with him.  I had to tell him several times to obey, but I’m not sure he heard me over all the splashing and laughing.  One of the techniques the instructor used was having the children throw a plastic toy down the pool and then they had to practice kicking and reaching while she held them and brought them to the toy.  Then they turned around and did the same thing again towards the side of the pool where the other students were waiting for their turn.  Well, Noah thought it was hilarious to throw the toy in the wrong direction when he was supposed to be heading back to end his turn.  This meant he got a longer turn.  Hmmmm.  Don’t quote me on this, but I think he knew exactly what he was doing for the entire lesson.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but this kind of behavior isn’t that unusual even among typical kids.  It’s the reaction that is different.  If a typical child behaved that way, the instructor would probably be gentle but firm in discouraging it, and that would be the end of that.  It’s kind of hard to be firm and discouraging when laughing.  Trust me, I know.  But I also know that gentle but firm works just as well with Noah as it does with my other kids.

I don’t think the swim instructor minded at all being a little extra flexible – as a matter of fact, most of the lessons she dismissed everybody else on time but kept Noah for one last jaunt around the pool.  And might I say I’ve never seen a happier student or instructor than during Noah’s swim lessons?

But I pity the poor swim instructor who gets Noah next time.


Who Are You and What Have You Done With My Children?

I’ve been dreading “doing” summer this year because last year it was so horrible.  It seemed that dropping our schedule of daily academics and structured chores resulted in complaining spirits, crankiness, and a total abandon when it came to housework.  (And that was just me.)  Just kidding.  My middles seemed to be constantly making a mess, arguing with each other, or having a meltdown about one thing or another.

It was obvious they and I needed a break, though, from school, but it was really trading one stress for another.

This year as June approached, we were ready for a break again, but I didn’t know how I was going to survive another summer like last year.  But I put my big girl boots on and dove headfirst into summer, prepared for battle.  Know what?  The battle never came.  Well, it is only the middle of June, so I guess I shouldn’t get too cocky.

My kids are walking around the house saying things like, “Mom, what can I do to help?”  “Mom, I’ll watch the babies for you.”  “Mom, can I help with dinner?”  “Mom, if I go and get the spaghetti sauce (from the grocery aisle shelf), can I check it off on the Ipad?”  “Oh, can I go get the yogurt?”  “Eden, let’s play store.”  “Andres, you can use my crayons as long as you put them back when you’re finished.”  “Mom, can I have my devotion book?”

As I experience this day after day, the first question I ask myself is what is different about this summer?  I know I haven’t graduated to sainthood during that time.  I haven’t made any drastic change in my parenting technique.  The kids are a bit older . . . but that can’t be it, because I think they are actually acting a lot better than they were in the last days of our school year.

It’s gotta be the YMCA.  I’m serious.  This is the second summer we’ve joined.  With all the new therapies and doctor appointments, we’re having to really watch what we spend, so I think we’re extra conscious of the $80 a month we’re spending for the membership.  That means we are taking the kids swimming at least three nights a week just to convince ourselves it was money well spent.  I really think that time together, out of the house, getting exercise, enjoying each other for an hour or two a night is paying off big time during the day.  Who woulda thought?

Swimming may be good exercise and great for gross motor skills, but I’ll tell you what – if they only thing that $80 was buying me a month was the kind of attitude I’m seeing in the kids, I’d still pay it – gladly!

How about you?  What’s the best money you ever spent?  How do you “splurge” and what’s the payoff?

Happy Saturday, y’all.