Well, we've taken the plunge. Quite literally for Drew, figuratively for me. Drew is now enrolled in his first swim class.
When Drew was diagnosed with hearing loss, one of the (many) things I cried over was swimming. How would a deaf child ever learn to swim - without being able to hear in the water, nor knowing any sign language? How would he ever be safe swimming? I felt like yet another little thing was being ripped away from me. What would our summers be filled with, if not water activities?
As a child I grew up with a pool in my backyard. I was spoiled. Every day of every summer I can remember was spent in the pool. As soon as I woke up, I would make my bed (a rule of my mothers) and jump in the pool. I would get out only to eat, and watch General Hospital. My sister, brother and I would swim all day long, until dusk, when the bats started swooping at the pool.
I have been so worried that a life in the water would be taken from my family. You see, if Drew could not hear in the water, it would not be enjoyable, so therefore the whole family would have to find something else to do. For one, I have been worried about how he will learn to swim. He does not know sign language, nor does he have a need to learn. Second, I find it very unsafe for him not to be able to hear in the water. What if a life guard is blowing her whistle at him for something? How will he know?
When we stumbled upon a YouTube video describing one families way of waterproofing a CI, we were ecstatic. Finally a solution to an issue that had worried us from very early on in this journey. And I must say, the waterproofing has worked beautifully. We used it on our vacation to Hilton Head two summers ago, and all last summer at the local pool.
As Drew is now 3 1/2 years old, we felt it was finally time for him to take some formal swim lessons, not only to learn pool safety, but to also begin working on basic swimming skills. I was very apprehensive to enroll him in the lessons. In-door pools by nature are very loud, and in a class of six children I was concerned that his ability to hear would be compromised. I was worried about him having issues if his CI feel off, or how the instructor would respond to having a child with different needs in her class.
I'm happy to say that I was needlessly worried! Drew is doing amazingly well. On the first night, I gave his instructor a little information on how Drew hears and things she could do to help him. With only one ear on, his sound localization is compromised, so she knows to tap him to get his attention on her. We told her that it would be helpful if he could see her lips. I've noticed that his teacher now makes an effort to have Drew stand or sit in the front of all the kids. We've had no issues keeping his ear on. He's happy in the water, even talking to other kids when it's not his turn to swim. Overall, it's just been really...easy.
Drew loves swimming. He's asked to go back every day for the past two weeks. He enjoys swimming on his back the most. And for the first time tonight actually let go of his teacher and swam, with his noodle tightly wrapped around his waist, by himself. He was so proud of himself!
Just another ordinary day in the life of an extraordinary little boy. I wish someone would have told me all this in the beginning. It would have saved a lot of tears.