Today was mine and Ashlea's first 'regular' swimming lesson, and I think overall we can say it was a success. Here is a blow-by-blow account for those of you thinking of trying this at home...
The swim school we go to is completely flat and accessible. The only slightly unexpected thing (something that completely didn't even occur to me until we were standing on the edge of the pool about to get in) was access to the pool itself. No nice graded stairs like at hydro, just 2 steps and a ladder. Hmmm - we managed but it wasn't ideal. I had to hold onto the ladder while stepping down onto the first ledge which was a fair way down - and oh did I mention I also had to hold Ashlea and not drop her in the water at the same time. Once we were in we discovered that the water at swimming lessons is definitely not as warm as the hydro pool (which is sometimes as warm as a bath) but we got used to it as the lesson progressed. Ashlea was a bit fussy at first and the instructor even got a "BYE BYE" from her (which means I have had enough of you GO AWAY) but she got into it more as the lesson went on. Obviously she wasn't able to do everything the other kids did, but for the most part she joined in and enjoyed herself. She loves kicking and splashing so we were able to do plenty of that, and they have one of those standing platforms so we were able to practise standing on that. Not as many songs as usual, but they did do Humpty Dumpty where the children sit on the edge of the pool and jump in when Humpty falls and that is one of Ashlea's absolute favourites so that made her happy (she could do that All Day Long).
As for questions from other parents - not a single one! I'm not sure about any stares or looks as I was too busy wrestling the octopus that is Ashlea to notice. There were times when Ashlea was obviously unhappy and the attention was on us, but by the end I felt it was nice for everyone to see her enjoying herself and squealing with delight. Hopefully it helps break down some barriers when people see that children with disabilities enjoy the same things as everyone else.
The instructor was helpful and talked to me about what things will be best for Ashlea to participate in. Its funny though - she obviously has the swimming teacher focus rather than the physio focus so some things the rest of the class do are just NOT going to happen for us (like dunking her whole head under or blowing bubbles...hmmm...not going to happen).
All in all it was a positive experience. Ashlea was a bit thrown at the beginning because it was different to the swimming she is used to, but she definitely got into it and enjoyed it, so we will be going back next week. At the moment she is crashed out on the floor asleep - swimming always exhausts her. Or no, maybe that is because she was up watching 'In The Night Garden' in the middle of the night last night???
PS Custard update - we are up to HALF A JAR!