Hamlatul is an Autism Swim Approved Instructor in Malaysia. Here, he shares his swimmers' most recent triumph.
"On 13th April 2019, I joined 8 of my students in the inaugural Autism Swim Open Water event, with the swimmers undertaking a 2km, 1km or 500m distance in the open sea.
This event created history as it involved a large number of participants and it's the first to be organised in the Asean region. The amount of bravery, will power and determination demonstrated by each swimmer deserves due recognition and praise.
It wasn't easy for them as each has their own struggles and had to work hard to overcome such a feat, as the ocean waves can be a struggle even for neurotypical swimmers. More over, each had to deal with different anxiety levels within themselves as they swam and completed their personal mission.
I would like to share with you one of my students stories.
Umar was diagnosed with regressive autism when he was 3 years old. He stopped speaking and had difficulty following instruction. He loved being in the water but it was hard for his mother to find a swimming coach who understood him and was able to teach him to swim.
During his first class with me, he cried and screamed throughout the whole session. Suprisingly, after 3 classes he was making amazing progress, even though there was no interaction verbally between the coach and Umar, he was able to understand instructions given and enjoyed each of his swimming classes. You need to go into his world if you want to be with Umar.
Even though Umar had only been with HSC for 5 months, I was confident of his ability to swim in open water. He finished the 500m open water swimming assignment with minor difficulties and I can't wait to see what other milestones he will reach in the future."