National Drowning Prevention Month
May is National Drowning Prevention month and to be honest I was completely unaware of this up until two years ago.
The thought of drowning was never on my radar until two years ago when my next-door neighbors came over to ask permission to use our yard for equipment access to put in an in-ground pool. My husband and I did not give it a second thought and gave them permission. That same week my son, Teddy, was diagnosed with high functioning Autism. You are probably thinking, “what on earth does that have to do with a pool?”
Well, you see, when your child is diagnosed you immediately go down the google rabbit hole. That rabbit hole includes A LOT of statistics. Did you know that one of the top ten leading causes of death among children ages 1-4 is accidental drowning? Let’s take that a step further… according to the Huffington Post, an autistic child is 160 times more likely to die by accidental drowning than that of a neurotypical peer.
As if getting an Autism diagnosis wasn’t earth-shattering enough my brain went wild thinking about the what if’s of having a pool mere feet from our home. It’s maternal instinct to protect our children and I decided the only way I could protect my child was to equip him with the life skill of learning how to swim.
Finding The Right Lessons
I began researching ISR classes. The widely popular swim courses that flood Facebook feeds around Springtime. I do not have an opinion in regards to ISR courses because we have never tried them but after watching enough videos I knew it was not the appropriate course for my child.
I wanted tried and true swim lessons.
That’s when I stumbled upon Safesplash!
The timing could not have been better. SafeSplash was having their grand opening and I decided to sign Teddy up for private swim lessons. Now I am not going to lie…it was ROUGH. My newly diagnosed autistic two-year-old was overwhelmed, overstimulated, and wanted to march to the beat of his own drum. During his first month of lessons, he never once got into the pool. Over the next few months, he spent more time getting out of the pool and trying to escape than he did in his actual lesson. I was ready to give up. I was tired of the staring parents and the curious eyes of other children.
But we did not give up. We stayed strong and we toughed it out because the staff at SafeSplash have the biggest hearts and they have accepted my child since day one. It truly has been a group effort and after a year of lessons, swimming has become Teddy’s favorite part of the week. He absolutely loves his instructor and his progress has been remarkable. As a special needs family, it can be hard to fit in and even more so feel accepted. Everyone at SafeSplash from the owners and the manager to the instructors and front desk staff has been nothing but accepting and encouraging.
A Lifelong Sport
What started out as sheer fear of my child drowning in our neighbor’s pool has turned into a lifelong sport for my four-year-old.
This past February my husband and I decided to start our two-year-old son, Frederick, in the parent-toddler courses. In just a matter of three months, Frederick has learned so many basic skills, and just like his older brother, he looks forward to his lesson all week long.
Water safety is so important and I cannot stress that enough. Knowing how to swim can save your child’s life. Pools and ponds easily lure curious toddlers and drowning takes only seconds. I urge you to look into swim lessons whether it be ISR, YMCA, or SafeSplash.
Now, let us address the elephant in the room: the cost.
Swim lessons are an investment. They are an investment in your child’s survival. I have never met someone that has ever said, “I regret teaching my child to swim.”
My family of five lives off a single law enforcement income (hint: it’s not a ton of money). I get aggravated when I hear people say they cannot afford swim lessons. Adjust your lifestyle. Cut out the coffee shops, unnecessary streaming services, stop eating out, etc. Ask for grandparents to contribute financially for swim lessons in loo of Christmas or birthday gifts. Where there is a will there is a way.
I will forever be brutally honest: swim lessons are cheaper than a funeral.
Just get the lessons.
You will never regret that decision.