It was the day of our eligibility assessment for swimming lessons at a well-known center specializing in assisting people with disabilities. My three-year old son Abraham had just been diagnosed with Asperger’s, and the facility offered one-to-one swimming lessons in a multi-tiered heated pool. I entered the pool cradling my fully-clothed child in my arms to hand over to the swimming director for his evaluation. Abraham refused to leave my arms and began screaming as if the water was flaying him alive. At that time, I had not learned about Sensory Integration Disorder, a common Asperger’s trait where the brain is unable to integrate certain information it receives from the body’s five basic sensory systems The touch of the water, the echoing sounds of the pool were too overwhelming for my child to accept and so he screamed out his anger and pain.
After 20 minutes of trying to engage with Abraham, the swimming director said she was sorry but she could not teach my son and that he would have to leave the pool since he was disturbing the other clients. I thanked the director for her time and carried my wailing child up the pool wheelchair ramp entrance until I reached its end and I just stopped. I sat my son on the pools’ edge, turned, walked two steps back into the water then called to Abraham to look at the ball I rolled to him. For the next hour and a half, I coaxed my child down the water ramp with varies toys until he was sitting waist high in the water. To my relief, the director came over and told me if I worked with my son over the summer so he could enter the water calmly then she would take him as a student in the fall.
I learned that day that “No” does not mean “No” forever but it can mean “Just not now” with my child. Abraham is now nine years old and after seven repeated classes has passed his American Red Cross Swimming Level 4. In our homeschooling journey, I have heard “No” from doctors, teachers, and even my own child (Child: No, why do I have to learn how to swim? Mom: Because I would rather have you learn how to swim than learn how to drown.) The beauty of homeschooling are the opportunities my son has to learn at his own pace and his own style. These opportunities are only limited by my imagination and commitment to figuring out how to get from “No” to “Yes”.