English Family Special Needs

Sometimes average can be great

Today I heard some of the most amazing words about my four year old.

“He was like everybody else”.

This might sound weird to you, and I get it. Normally, every parent harbors the hope that their kids will be better than most. Incredible. Outstanding. Amazing. Excellent. Perfect.

But today, for me, average summed up all those things.

When you have a child with special needs, average is not a given. Especially if their need requires equipment, like my son’s cochlear implants, they tend to stand out. On top of his equipment, and since he is still learning how to regulate his voice, he can be quite loud. And that makes him stand out even more. He is not average. He is special. And we are ok with that.

But every now and then, being average is awesome.

Like today.

He had taken his last swimming class at six months, and after his diagnosis he hadn’t had time for swimming lessons. Until now. He will be five soon, and I won’t be able to keep him by my side at all times during our summers in the Spanish countryside. He needs to start doing what all the kids do, go to the public swimming pool, go to summer camp, run around, and be safe while doing it. Even if I’m there with him, he won’t be safe in a pool unless he knows how to swim.

To be honest, I was hesitant. He does amazingly well at school, but anytime we are around following rules stops being a priority for him (not that it is for his brothers, mind you). Although by now he understands most things in both English and Spanish, his expressive language is at least a year behind. Add to that that the acoustics of the pool and the background noise make it hard for him to hear, even while wearing his submergible cochlear implant. But still we decided to give it a shot, and signed him up for a group class.

I explained to the instructor and the manager of aquatics how the implant works, and how to maximize his hearing while in the water. I had talked to the manager before signing him up, but the instructor seemed a bit puzzled at the beginning, and amazed by the technology at the same time. However, he only had two kids, and he quickly gained my son’s trust, which is not an easy feat.

Not even in my wildest dreams could it have gone better.  The same kid who was scared of the big pool last summer had a blast today. The instructor asked me how to sign a couple of things so he could communicate better with him. He was laughing, and splashing, and hopefully learning something the whole time.

The best part?

At the end I approached the instructor to ask if he had been comfortable, and how he had done. You guessed his answer, right?

“He was like everybody else”.

And those five simple words, taken for granted by most, just made my day.

Hopefully next summer he will be IN the pool.
Hopefully next summer he will be IN the pool.

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