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SLP Mommy of Apraxia: Good teachers change lives

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Good teachers change lives

What a busy month!  Life definitely doesn't slow down just because I'm off for summer break!  I signed both the kids up for swimming lessons.  Ashlynn would be in the Guppy class for probably her 5th time, and Jace and I would be in the parent/tot class.

I decided that since it was the first day, and considering Ashlynn's aversion to water now following two traumatic pool events, here: I would stay on the side with Jace and watch to make sure she was ok. I realize now it was totally irrational, but I guess I was expecting she would have her same instructor from last year and she would be off and running.  She sure was excited at the thought of going swimming.  I snapped this photo while we were waiting for them to call off the classes.  Doesn't she look excited?

I have to admit, when they called off her instructor, he looked like he was 12.  Okay, not really, but he was young, new, a little hesitant himself.  Ashlynn refused to get in the water.  She cried hysterically as fear gripped her whenever they even mentioned it.  Another little boy in her class had autism, and his mom had to literally sit on the side and hold his arm or he would go swimming off under water, and another little boy had no desire to listen or follow directions.  I actually kinda felt bad for this kid as much as I did for Ashlynn.  He was in waaaaay over his head!

Week two, Ashlynn would let him take her out to practice skills, but she either had her arms gripping his face, her neck up, or her knees pulled to her chest.  She also refused to stand in the water and would only sit on the side of the pool.  It literally broke my heart.

There were some cute moments though.  When it was time to stand on the edge of the pool, she would hold the little boy's hand who had autism and talk to him and repeat the directions.  He never looked at her, but he seemed to listen and his mom seemed more than grateful.  Ashlynn was the only child to talk to him and she was the only person beside his mom that he would let hold his hand. I just thought, "Well that's Ashlynn.  Maybe she isn't here to learn to swim.  Maybe she has a bigger purpose."  Even though I was proud of her, my heart was still sad.  I lamented to my husband that I felt that she was actually worse than when she started swim lessons last year because now she wouldn't even get in the water.  

We tossed around private lessons and decided to do it.  I heard the instructor of my parent/tot class saying she and another instructor were the only two current certified staff.  I figured I'd go with her and had her write her number on the back of the card.  That was Thursday.  

On Monday, Ashlynn started her new two week session.  I just figured she would have the same boy, and I thought, well, maybe it's best because at least she knows him.  However, I was surprised when they put her in "Josh's" class.  I had seen Josh since last year.  He normally taught the older kids, or so I thought.  I would marvel about his amazing teaching ability and how his kids would respond to him.  I wished he taught the younger kids, but I had never seen him do so, until today.

Ashlynn went shyly with me holding her hand.  Instead of my usual speech of "Even though Ashlynn doesn't look like it, she has special needs and has a motor planning disorder that affects everything from her speech to her gross motor skills, so please keep an eye on her because she has had to be rescued twice" I said, "You teach little kids?  I only thought you taught older kids?"  He seemed surprised and said that was weird because he usually only teaches the little ones.  

I stepped back with Jace and turned around to see Ashlynn red faced, freaking out not wanting to get in the pool.  He put her in anyway and then bent his head in and said something to her ear.  I have no idea what he said, but she stopped crying.  Before I even knew it, I was in tears on the sideline watching her not only stand in the water but blow her bubbles and do her head bobs.  I sent text messages to my husband.  

When I looked up again, I saw this:

Full back float, head down, arms AND legs out relaxed, and trusting Josh.  She has NEVER, EVER, done this with anyone.  I looked on stunned and snapped another picture.  When she started to tense up, he leaned his head into her ear again and told her to trust him.  He told her he had her, and when she did it he gave her the biggest hug.  

Tears flowed.

To see the pride on her face, the confidence in her smile, the sparkle in her eyes....he did this in ONE day!! 

And what I realized was, I actually didn't care about the swimming.  I mean I do, but I was more proud of her being proud of herself.  He gave her confidence, he instilled a sense of accomplishment in herself and that is what being a teacher is all about.  He made her WANT to learn to swim.  

Good teachers change lives.

In this journey in apraxia, I realize and learn over and over and over again, that maybe we have to know the darkness to truly appreciate the light, and the light sure shone on us today.  

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At June 25, 2014 at 7:50 AM , Blogger Kim & Alex said...

teary eyed. What a great post.

At July 12, 2014 at 5:35 PM , Blogger Laura Smith said...

Thank you lady :)


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