swimming days and visual timetables…

Swimming is great for dinky. She loves it. I love the fact she loves it, but it can be an absolute nightmare!

Dinky likes to know when things are going to be. She likes preparation time. She likes to know what she is doing when. I started doing a visual timetable when we went into the bed and breakfast. It just stopped her asking when lunch and dinner were all the time. It then became useful for getting her to bed as she would look at the time and then comment on if it was nearly time to do something. We carried this on in the hostel. I tweaked it and moved it around when she started school, but it worked. Well, I didn’t get as much ‘mum, mum, mum, mum, what time is food’ or ‘mum, mum, mum, mum, when is bath time’.

When she was at school her favourite meal was on Friday and she saw the play therapist on Tuesdays. She was forever asking what day is S day. What day is fish and chips and no matter how many times I tried to teach her the days of the week she just didn’t understand. When we moved and then she got her DLA I went out and brought a laminator. I made a days of the week chart too and put what days we are doing things on. So now every morning she looks at what day it is and she sees what we are doing.

She likes Wednesdays, because Wednesday is swimming. She likes it so much that certain things become easier but others become harder. She is more likely to get ready for school on swim days. Although, I got another note this morning from Buzz Lightyear telling me how lovely our home was, dinky got no tv time this morning because despite being up for 3 hours it took until 8.15 for her to be ready! Then her grandma phoned. Hopefully this is not how it is going to continue. I rather liked an easier morning due to swimming!

She is much, much more likely to behave on the way home from school, or leave the park nicely on swimming days. It was great today, we got home in half the time that we did yesterday from the park.

Dinky also ate her dinner today! Woohoo! (but then she tends to eat on wednesay because they do a roast dinner and they put gravy on it and she doesn’t like gravy, so she eats the veg and pudding only)

She walked nicely to the bus stop, where she generally starts being a pain due to her heightened anxiety. Even an activity she likes can put her on edge. Going swimming may sound like fun but here is my idea of what ‘swimming lesson’ means to dinky…

  • I have to walk
  • I have to get the bus and try to behave appropriately
  • I have to walk some more, through the tunnels and next to the very busy and loud road.
  • I have to go into the changing room the kids using the hairdryers, which are quieter than mums but loud enough for me not to like it
  • I have to get undressed and then put my swimming costume on
  • I have to listen to mum because putting on my swim hat takes both of us
  • I have to wait for the shower because I must shower before I swim
  • I have to sit with mum and watch the other lessons end
  • I have to listen and do as my swim teacher asks
  • I have to get out
  • I have to shower again
  • I have to get dry
  • I have to get dressed again
  • I have to go back through the hairdryers
  • I have to line up to get a snack because I don’t know what I want after swimming
  • I have to wait for the taxi
  • I have to get dressed for bed when I get home.

That is a lot of have to’s for a child who doesn’t do well with demands.

So the bus stop becomes the place where the challenge for me begins. Today Dinky wanted her bus pass. I let her have it as I could not think of a reason why not, and I find saying yes more when she is anxious works. However she decided to take the smartcard out and was messing about, and somehow the middle of the holder split. Of course she immediately blamed me. Which I took much to the busy bodies at the bus stop’s surprise! On the bus Dinky was looking at the window shouting that the bus was going the wrong way (which it wasn’t). Dinky was knocking into my arm but it wasn’t too bothersome, so I let her do it.

When we got off the bus she walked ok, but was not making much sense with what she was saying. Once we got to the main road I had to hold her ears for the 5 minute walk to the leisure centre car park. Every week I think I really should invest in a pair of ear defenders as walking down here every week holding her ears is not easy! I always forget almost as soon as we get into the leisure centre. We go straight through the barrier, and I hold Dinky’s ears on request to go through the hair dryers. 

Getting dressed is never really an issue, dinky likes her swimming costume, but LOVES her Nemo swimming hat! It is a nightmare to get on however, not helped by the fact that dinky is normally smelling the swimming pool or commenting on the lights or arguing about whether or not the changing room we are in is the same one as last week. It HAS to be the same one.

Once she is ready we make our way to the side. Normally, she is quite good at waiting but I think the park may not have been the best idea. It was very hard to persuade her that today was not the best day for the park, but one of the boys from yesterday was going and she really wanted to play. So I let her go, and we stayed for 25 minutes.

We waited at the pool side and no teacher came. So I took dinky over to the teacher who she had last week (they change regularly), and asked who was teaching dinky today. Now a few weeks ago the teacher who first had Dinky told me she was going on holiday for 2 weeks after the May half term. However they had not arranged cover which left dinky without an instructor. Dinky got cross as they said they didn’t know who was taking her and dinky said ‘but my swim is NOW!’. They did eventually work a way of doing it however it was now 6.10pm and the lesson is supposed to be 6pm-6.30pm.The teacher ‘in charge’ today is the useless one that is always late for dinky’s lessons. While they were messing about dinky just wanted to get in the pool. She was all for jumping straight in. I had to stop her once, then I had to restrain her as she was trying to get in by herself. I myself don’t think anything terrible would have happened right then, but I do not want her thinking it is acceptable to get into the pool without an adult as that can be very dangerous. Especially as we live right near a large duck pond. Dinky doesn’t always understand the difference if she has made even the slightest of connections, it becomes the same (unless of course she wants it to be different!). The teacher who is always in the pool already and starts her class bang on 6pm was shaking her head in disapproval at the other instructors. Once she had been taken off me to get in I sat down with my head in my hands. It is very stressful knowing other people’s incompetence is the reason for your child’s distress. The on time teacher asked if I was ok while her two students were performing dives to get rings. I said I was, although by this point I have had enough! I watch the swim lesson and laugh. There were two ladies taking 4 children. Normally dinky has 1:1 but she was sharing an instructor with a non verbal lad who, bless him, seems very vacant, although he does like being held and being walked backward through the water. It gives him a small, but noticeable smile. The other instructor was helping if needed as her two are slightly older, more compliant and definitely higher functioning. She got them doing a task and they were very happy to get on and do the task. The one who had the other two had to intervene quite a bit as dinky was doing her own thing her way and she wasn’t even listening to the instructors. It was like they didn’t exist. Actually it seemed that no-one existed as she did her thing and it didn’t matter who she crashed into. She tried to bolt into the play pool, she also tried to jump out of the pool to climb the palm trees again!

(last week was very funny as Dinky got it into her head that she HAD to climb the palnm tree so she waited for her teacher to be busy getting a new float and off she went. I had to try and peel her off! My other nickname for Dinky is monkey, and she was sure acting like a monkey! Probably not very interestingly the blog was going to be called monkey and me, or me and my monkey but I kept thinking of the Robbie Williams song that he wrote while he was high, it didn’t seem very appropriate somehow)

Anyway, one of the teachers asked me how strict can they be with her. I told them they can be as strict as they liked but it would only make her more determined not to do something. I told her choices was the best way at the moment. She said that while Dinky is learning a lot even through not doing as she is told. Which to me is pretty impressive! Go Dinks!

I watch as Dinky does what she likes and is determined to do what the older kids are doing, so the teacher lets her. She actually doesn’t do too bad! She just seems less functioning than the other 4 children.

I was very, very happy with dinky as she got out without having a meltdown for the first time in a few weeks! She showers, she drives me mad getting dressed because the reflection of the light shimmering on the pool is above us on the ceiling. Dinky was far too interested in this than responding to me asking her to move various parts of her body.

We had a snack and we got a cab home, in which she is putting her feet all over the drivers chair, even in the middle, and asking him all sorts of random things before trying to direct him to our house. I must admit I do like the cab driver we tend to get the same one a lot, and he is aware of what dinky can be like and fully indulges her! She messed about getting ready for bed, even now, an hour and a half after getting in from swimming she is watching Netflix, trying to unwind.


She does seem happiest in the pool, even if it is hard work getting her there and getting her home. It is worth seeing her laugh and smile even for the 20-25 minutes she is in the pool.


2 thoughts on “swimming days and visual timetables…

  1. Just reading about the swim session makes my head spin! It’s wonderful how you manage it all. Yasin loves swimming too, though it takes a lot of anguish to get him ready. But, as you said, it’s worth it to see him smile whilst he’s in the pool. I definitely look forward to reading more!

    • Thank you for replying,
      I don’t think anything comes close to watching someone you love, who finds everyday things difficult, smile. All the stress becomes worth it.

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