Six-year-old Max Drew was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder not long after his 5th birthday. He also has hypotonia, a condition where he has low muscle tone in his core and upper body.
Max’s mum Kim told us that Max has always had notable deficits in his gross motor development. “He is always falling over, has no spatial awareness and is very clumsy. Despite this, he has always had an infatuation for water play, a very common trait in Autistic individuals,” said Kim.
Max has been attending swimming lessons at Kilsyth Cetenary Pool since he was three years old. Max originally started off in group lessons, however due to his inability to focus in group settings, was then moved into one on one swimming lessons with swim teacher Lee Callec.
Kim said that during Max’s first swimming lesson, Max actually fell in the water but his swimming teacher quickly grabbed him. Unfortunately, after this incident, Max was reluctant to go back in the water. It took nearly eighteen months before he would completely submerge his face in the water. Once he achieved that milestone, it was impossible to keep his face out of the water!
From that moment on, Max’s swimming ability flourished. He was able to dive, swim under water and return safely to the edge of the pool. “This is an important skill for any child to have, especially an autistic child,” said Kim.
Lee told us she struggled to get Max’s attention in the pool at the very beginning, but managed to overcome this hurdle by setting up a reward system. “Max loved being underwater and also talking. He would often bounce in and out of the water telling me a story every time he came up for air. Depending on how he was each lesson his reward would be either get to do a sinky after he completed a 3-5minute task or tell me a story. Each week I would extend his time working in class until he didn’t need the reward and his bouncing stopped. That is when his skills really started to improve,” said Lee.
Prior to the COVID-19 lockdown, Max and Lee had been working on his stamina and breathing techniques so that he could maintain an even stroke. “We used some brain gym techniques before starting his class to improve his concentration and coordination with great success. He had really improved with his freestyle, backstroke and survival backstroke and was able to torpedo 15 meters. He was also more engaged in the class. We finished each lesson with a big high 5 and congratulations on all the hard work he had done,” said Lee.
Before COVID-19, Kim said Max was swimming a full freestyle stroke. His anxiety levels had decreased and he could float independently on his back. He was even learning breaststroke and survival backstroke. His confidence within himself had skyrocketed. He looked forward to his Monday evening swimming lessons with his swim teacher Lee.
Lee is concerned that when Max does return to swimming, he will have missed nearly a full year of lessons. She expects to see regression in the progress that she and Max have made and is prepared for the uphill journey of getting Max back to where he was in March this year. Lee’s priority will be water safety and familiarisation, to gradually build Max’s confidence and skills back to where they were.
“We can’t wait to get him back into the water before summer and have already enrolled Max into the intensive course in January,” said Kim. “We highly recommend the team at Kilsyth Centenary Pool and thank them for helping Max progress so well with his swimming lessons.”
Belgravia Leisure offers the Swimming Australia GoSwim For Kids program, to deliver students a new and effective swimming and water safety program focusing on contemporary and activity-based learning.
For more information or to enrol your kid/s today please visit our Aquatics page:https://belgravialeisure.com.au/sectors/aquatics/