Every summer, story after story appears on the news about a child drowning (or nearly-drowning), and moms and dads start to worry: What would happen if my child fell in a pool?
When you’re a parent who lives in a state where it seems like every other house has a swimming pool, that anxiety is ever-present. And if your kiddo has autism or other special needs? That’s when stress and concern can turn into out-and-out fear.
Gilbert, Arizona mom Tonya Price wanted to do everything she could to ensure that her two toddlers could survive a fall in the pool. After doing some research, she turned to ISR’s Self-Rescue swimming lessons for young children. The results — for both her non-verbal son with autism, and her neurotypical daughter — were nothing short of amazing.
Below, Tonya shares her family’s story, photos of what the kids learned, and with two video clips showing the ISR swimming lessons in action.
One mom’s experience with infant self-rescue swimming lessons
How/where did you first hear of ISR?
Someone on Facebook had posted an infant self-rescue swimming lessons video that I couldn’t stop thinking about.
Around the same time, a local friend of mine had a family member (toddler) crawl through their doggie door and nearly drown. The baby had suffered severe brain damage and was on life support. The little girl passed away about two weeks later.
What was the experience like for you, as a mom, to watch?
It was hard for about the first four days. Both of my babies were crying and not happy. I could tell it was an upset cry, but not a scared cry. They trusted Colleen, their instructor, but they didn’t like what they were having to do.
After the first week, I was amazed at the progress a months-old child could make, in merely 10 minutes a day. I was so proud at how fast they picked it up, and I was very happy that they quickly began to love their daily swim lessons!
What did you think of the process — and how did your children respond?
The lessons are 10 minutes per day, for 4 to 6 weeks. Abby (2-1/2) went for 5 weeks, while Colton, who was only 1-1/2, went for 6 weeks.
It was a challenge to coordinate the lesson times with their differing nap times. The instructor teaches a different child every 10 minutes, so you have to arrive precisely on time, so your child can begin as soon as the previous child comes out of the water.
Once we got the hang of the routine, we quickly became pros, but ISR is a major commitment that parents make to their child.
Was there much of a difference between how/speed of learning between your two kids?
My 2-1/2 year old daughter is very verbal, so she was able to listen to the instructions she received. However, my 1-1/2 year son is speech delayed. He was diagnosed with autism a few months after his lessons began.
To my surprise, he seemed to intuitively pick-up the process, and loved to be in the water. He could hold his breath under water with his mouth wide open. His eyes were always open and he was attentive to what was going on around him.
When we did the refresher lessons a year later, he immediately remembered how to go into his float.
I feel that the younger a child is when they take ISR lessons, the better, because their muscle memory takes over, and they don’t have to even think about it.
Now that they’ve had some training, are you less stressed about the kids being around water?
A few months after our initial ISR lessons, we went on a playdate at a local pool. I thought a family member was watching my 2-year-old, and she thought that I was.
I was talking to some moms and suddenly, in the distance, I saw my daughter in the water with nobody else around. She was floating on her back, just as she had been taught in ISR. As I swam closer to her, I began to hear her voice calling for someone to “help me.” It broke my heart… but my baby girl was safe. She did exactly as she had learned.
ISR swim lessons was the best investment my husband and I have ever made in our children.
Colton’s swimming skills (non-verbal, autism)
Abby’s swimming skills (neurotypical toddler)
More photos of ISR swim skills
Fully-clothed in the pool
Colton during week 2 of his swimming lessons (age 18 months)
Having fun during a lesson
Abby’s ISR “graduation” with Colleen Haas