Joe Chapman – Swimmer

Joe Chapman

My son, Joe, who is 11 years’ old, was diagnosed will Autism when he was 2-and-a-half.  His ADHD diagnosis followed about 4yrs later.  When he was about 4, I was introduced to the club by a friend who had recently joined with her Autistic son.

Joe has always had a great fascination with water, so, after going along to see the club in action one Saturday afternoon, I put his name on the waiting list.  Within a few months we were offered a place, which I duly accepted.

I was somewhat nervous when we arrived for Joe’s first session as he often displays unpredictable and impulsive behaviours, and that day, (with Joe wriggling free from my grip to run around the edge of the pool with me in hot pursuit), was no exception!  Once in the water with a dedicated helper, Joe appeared to enjoy himself, splashing anyone who dared come near enough, so we started to come regularly.

From those early days, everyone has been really friendly and it was a relief to find an activity he enjoyed and somewhere where he was accepted.

Within a couple of years, Joe was swimming unaided; first a width, followed by a length and jumping in at the deep end of the pool.  He still requires adult supervision in the water for motivation and also, because he possesses no spatial awareness and is totally fearless.

Regular swimming has increased Joe’s stamina and he is now able to swim just under a mile in the BLDSA One-Hour Postal swim, something which the club takes part in every year.

At the annual club gala in 2011, Joe was awarded the club’s Junior Progress Trophy, recognising him as the junior swimmer having made the most progress throughout that year.  He was presented with the trophy by David Burrowes MP at the gala (pictured here) and was thrilled to receive it.

I, (Debbie), am Trophy Officer for the club.  I maintain the trophies we hold and organise their engraving when we win them in galas.  We do win quite a few!