To SWIM: Way Beyond Water Wings
Below is our journey to adapt water activities for our boy, Blue.
There is no way around it. The water is tricky for most special needs parents. My son has unique challenges that make the water tricky. Essentially the word is: spastic quadriplegic. Although that isn’t exactly what he has, it looks a lot like it. Believe it or not, his catastrophic disability comes 100% from jaundice – newborn jaundice. For more on his condition read Kernicterus. If you want to read about how it happened, read Being Rearranged.
So, the water is tricky to say the least. We’ve thrown a LOT of money down the drain trying to find something that kept him afloat. Most failures seems more like drowning aids. We’ve done this, not because we have money coming out of our ears, but because we badly have wanted to find a safer and easier way for our whole family to enjoy the water. I know it looks ridiculous to spend so much on so many things. But, if you know the special needs equipment world, you know that you are usually talking about thousands of dollars for medical equipment, and if not thousands, definitely hundreds.
In the end, we’ve figured out some reasonable solutions for:
- The Pool (special needs)
- The Pool (for typically developing non-swimmers)
- Boating, Kayaking etc (for special needs)
As always, keep in mind that I am no expert and this is not medical advice. If you, or someone you loves can benefit from this post, please keep in mind their individual needs and consult your physician and or therapist before trying any of these items…and of course NEVER let your child use them unattended!
Summer 2013 update:
You can read below about where to buy these, but this year we are still with the same foam collar and a new life jacket from http://www.pfd-a.com . My boy wiggles A LOT and quickly figured out how to get his mouth under water in the life jacket…so it’s not something he could be unsupervised in or even hands off…but when boating it would certainly increase his chances of making it through a boating accident.
The foam collar provides enough support for supervised semi-independant use. (We stand right by him and keep our eyes on him, so it’s a bit more hands off. )
His able-bodied sister was wearing the collar for fun! They always want to be like their big bro!
WHAT HASN’T WORKED FOR US
(While these things burned a hole in our wallet it was NOT because they are bad products, they just were not suitable for our son’s specific needs):
There is also a swim wedge with a strap that we spent another $100+ on with no luck. (can’t find an image.)
It cost us $35 (although the price went up to $70 in 2012)!
85375 WATER CELL™ FLOTATION COLLAR
(800) SWIM GEAR (794-6432)
ANOTHER OPTION FOR SMALLER SPECIAL NEEDS KIDS
FOR CHILDREN WITH HEAD CONTROL LEARNING TO SWIM
OTHER USEFUL SWIM GEAR FOR SPECIAL NEEDS
- Noodles – My boy can only wear the swim collar so long without getting a bit gaggy, so when he tires we make use of these noodles, wrapping them under his arms and our own.
- U type seats
- We are using this one this year and love it! It’s certainly not perfect, and requires constant supervision, but adapted with noodles or tying the end of the u together makes it a pretty decent solution.
- Blue loves this, and kicks all around the pool
- This one is great b/c it actually has multiple inflated pieces that interlock, so it doesn’t bounce you off like a water mattress.
FOR BOATING AND KAYAKING
I found these. Again, not something he could use independently, but much better than any alternative I’ve found. They are made in Canada.