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Aquatic Center offers special needs swim lessons

July 21st, 2014 10:00 pm by Matthew Lane

Aquatic Center offers special needs swim lessons

Destiny Anderson works with thirteen-year-old Adam Byczko is learning how to swim. Photo by David Grace

KINGSPORT - Thirteen-year-old Adam Byczko is learning how to swim this summer.

This may not sound like a big deal for most teenagers, but for Adam is it.

Adam has Fragile X Syndrome, a genetic condition causing developmental delays; he's non-verbal, has epilepsy and a few autistic tendencies as well, his mother Susan describes. Adam can communicate with an iPad, but on a limited basis.

"He took a few lessons when he was maybe 5 or 6 years old, but it was a challenge," Susan said. "To have him with a lot of other children over-stimulated him and it's hard for him to focus."

Susan, a single mother who lives in Jonesborough, looked around the area for private swim lessons for her son, but found nothing accommodating. The family has a pool at home and Adam has used it for practice, but something more personal was needed.

The need was met with Susan noticed a flier on the wall at the Talk Back therapy center in Johnson City for adaptive swim lessons at the Kingsport Aquatic Center.

"I called right off the bat to see if I could get him in," Susan said. "I was excited immediately and it's been absolutely wonderful for him. I'm really thrilled with the things he's learning, he's always smiling and laughing. It's absolutely fun."

For the past nine weeks, Adam has been enrolled in the weekly swim lessons and been making great progress.

"A lot of it is getting him used to the water in the beginning," Susan said. "They let him go at his pace. He's been learning how to kick, do what they call scoops (motions with his hands) and for most kids that's pretty easy, but for a child with complex motor planning, it's very difficult for them to do more than one task at a time."

These one-on-one, private lessons are geared towards people like Adam with neurological, developmental and cognitive challenges. The 30-minute lessons focus on independent swimming and water safety skills and are held in the facility's indoor, warm water pool.

"He's learning to go underwater and every mother's fear for kids with special needs is water," Susan said. "You hear so often they drown in pools, lakes or streams. Kids are just drawn to water, so knowing your kid knows how to hold their breath underwater and be able to stand up, relieves a lot of stress with people."

Each session includes eight, 30 minute private lessons. The cost is $45 for Kingsport Aquatic Center and Greater Kingsport Family YMCA members, $50 for non-members. Participants are welcome to apply for the Leland & Marilyn Davis Friends of the Aquatic Center Swim Lesson Scholarships.

The adaptive lessons are offered year-round.

Susan said the one-on-one instruction is what's so beautiful about the program.

"Adam would not be able to go into a class with 15 or 20 kids. He'd be over-stimulated, watch other kids, and wouldn't get anything out of it," Susan said. "Them providing this much-needed service...it's the first time (Adam) is really getting something out of it and as long as the aquatic center offers the services, we're going to take advantage of them."

For more information about the Adaptive Swim Lessons at the Kingsport Aquatic Center please call (423) 343-9758 or visit www.swimkingsport.com.

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