August 23, 2011

Swim Day

Posted in Life's Little Moments, My Take on Autism tagged , , , at 9:20 am by autismmommytherapist

I aim my lens toward Justin as he strides energetically through the doorway to the pool grounds, lagging slightly behind the rest of his class. He immediately sees me, my mom, and my aunt, and stops short so suddenly that he forces his aide to bump into him. His grin upon recognition is luminous, and I can literally see his body vibrate with joy as he resumes his pace and quickly steps through the gate toward waiting water. I’ve captured the moment on film of course, his sweet smile imprinted upon our memory card, and my heart. As he follows his usual routine and makes his way to the bench I watch him wistfully turn his head back our way, but he knows what he’s supposed to do. Since he’s a good boy he resists running over for hugs and kisses, and sits dutifully down on his spot.

Throughout the next half hour of Justin’s school swim day, he barely takes his eyes off of us once.

I’ve been thrilled with the aquatic progress he’s made this season, my boy who until two summers ago refused to immerse his face in the chlorinated depths of our own pool, and often refused to go in at all if the temperature wasn’t to his liking. Now at the slightest of prompts from his aide, he slides off the side into waiting arms, and “performs” his new skills. What follows, among other tricks, are my son’s clear attempts at blowing bubbles, an activity which he has previously despised. A kickboard is wielded with perfect accuracy for minutes at a time, a feat which amazes me since I still can’t convince him to use our own. Eventually his instructor gently props and propels him with strategically placed hands on my son’s  belly, and I see my boy straining to coordinate his moves, hands paddling and feet mildly disturbing the pristine surface. I unconsciously hold my breath as he is released and witness his subsequent submersion, as well as several seconds of him actually swimming underwater, truly trying to move forward.

That’s the thing about this kid- he has always, always tried to move forward.

My mom and aunt echo one another in their enthusiasm, and my boy regards us almost shyly as he pushes himself out of the water with a little help, and perches once more on the unforgiving concrete. I am hard pressed at this moment to decide which detail has made me the happiest. Fortunately, I don’t have to pick between his newfound pool prowess, or his exuberance at recognizing favorite family members. I won’t have to select between the fact that he wasn’t attempting egress within seconds of seeing us, or the fact he cared we were there at all. I don’t have to choose, can simply revel in these hard-won points of progress.

For once, Mommy can have it all.


  1. cindy said,

    What a huge accomplishment! Go Justin!

  2. Mom said,

    It was a great day! I was so proud–and you’re right–Justin always does move forward. What an amazing kid!

  3. Jina said,

    Looks like Justin is having a great summer!

  4. Ruth Ormsbee said,

    Great job Justin. Keep up the good work. Summer is almost over so enjoy it al you can. God Bless you all.
    Aunti Ruthie of Pa.

  5. Shivon said,

    Way to go cutie pie!!!!

  6. Kathy said,

    Yay Justin!

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