William and Oliver_560x300

From the time William was four, he had trouble with transitions.

My husband and I wanted him to learn to swim, but he had difficulty interacting with the other kids in his group. Meltdowns with his instructors were common and he often refused to go into the pool.

Finally, at the end of grade three, we received our diagnosis: William was on the autism spectrum with ADHD. Now it all made sense.

William’s swim instructors tried their best to help. They would keep an eye on him and cue me if William was having a hard time, and they allowed me to come on to the pool deck if  William was upset. And Nadiya, one of the team leaders, would check in with me regularly with new ideas to try. Despite all of this, William still struggled.

But then he met Oliver, the instructor for his next group session. From that very first meeting, they connected. William smiled for the first time and a special bond quickly developed between them. So, when we made the decision to switch to private lessons, there was no hesitation – Oliver would be his instructor.

Within a short time, I could not believe the transformation. Watching them swim together, there was something almost magical about the comfortable banter between them. William talks about his week at school and delights in sharing his favourite “food” riddles with Oliver. The highlight of his week is his swim lesson with Oliver.

There was a time when William was not comfortable with people he didn’t know, but now, he’s happier and calmer, with a bounce in his step. The skills he’s learning with Oliver in the pool are being transferred to other areas of his life. Oliver is not just teaching him to swim; he’s teaching him about life.