A year ago, Kittyboy was in aqua therapy, aka pool playtime, because he refused to be bathed. I hadn't even TRIED to bathe him for months at that point, because I just wasn't going to wrestle the slippery infant who screamed as if traumatized whenever I set him in water. Not worth it. Baby wipes kept him clean "enough" anyhow, you know? Well, one session got him taking baths with no problem, so we never did it again... but this last winter, he decided that baths were once more WWIII. He got his first haircut not because his hair was all that long, but because it was matting into dreads in the back because I couldn't wash it. Rasta boy. Husband tried one day, after I cut off the dreads, to give him a bath - saying, "If he needs this, then we're doing it one way or another" is a daddy thing. I stood at the other end of the house listening to the truly terrified screams of "MOMMY!! MOMMY!! ALL DONE!! ALL DONE!!" in tears myself. And Husband did conclude that it really wasn't that I'm such a softy after all - Kittyboy had a real problem with either water, our tub, or both. And he's so strong, it's just not a good idea to wrestle him in the tub. BUT, he is no longer of the age where baby wipes are good enough. His hair, especially, smells quite like a lockerroom. He splashes in puddles, he splashes with his hands in buckets, he plays in the hose, but he will NOT go in the bathtub.
So we restarted pool time today. It'll probably be every other week. He was excited to see the pool - not excited at the idea of getting in. I'd been dreading that he would not show any problems at all with the pool (like taking the car to the mechanic and having it run just fine then), and that he had a problem with just bathtubs, and if that were the case, what would we do? My fears on that were unfounded. Ginny and Janelle, a new OT, got in the water, and asked him if he wanted to sit on the edge and splash - "Uh uh, all done." Waving his hands, backing up, not going near that water. The more they tried to coax him in, the more anxious he got. He was willing to stand near the edge and throw a ball through a basket floating in the water, but he wouldn't go in. Twenty minutes or so of every trick in the book, and an OT's book of tricks is pretty extensive, and any time they tried to put him in, he cried and ran away. He was happy being splashed - he would lay on his stomach on the side and splash with his hand - but when Ginny set him with his feet in it, he cried and scrambled out.
It was fascinating to watch while they troubleshot and bounced ideas off each other. Idea #1 - he doesn't like the 360 degrees of pressure from the water. But, he likes tight hugs, sleeps under 8 lbs of beans, etc. Rejected - but modified into Idea #2, which is he doesn't like that the water partially supports him while being fluid, he feels insecure in it. Okaaaay, so it's like the proprioceptive dysfunction which got him sleeping under weight in the first place. He needs the weight for truly sound sleep because it keeps him feeling grounded - in the water, he feels much less grounded even than normal. So we tried one-pound ankle weights.
Ankle weights, like chocolate, make everything better! He stomped about with them quite happily. They got him to dangle his feet in the water and kick, and once he figured out that something was different now, he was okay with going in. You could see he was still a little anxious with each new activity (working towards less and less support around him) but he was willing to give it a go, and by the end, he was having such fun he didn't want to leave!
So we have a shopping list - ankle weights, a wading pool (ours from last year cracked) and a round, colorful laundry basket. Get him to sit in the pool in the laundry basket, for sort of a boundary, and then once he's happy and fine with that, move the Happy Boundary-Providing Laundry Basket into the tub. I should add a swimsuit for me to the shopping list, because somehow I suspect this will become a communal affair, at least for a while!