Sorry for the double publishing tonight but I wanted to tell you about the phone call I received today from my new council Case Worker. A bit of background…about a month or so ago, I was called up by this lady who informed me she was my new Case Worker (no idea what happened to the last one…maybe they take it in turns to have me on their books!?) She came over for a quick meeting and typically for me, this wall of scepticism instantly shot up with my immediate assumptions being that she would be no good and I’d never hear from her again.
However, to cut a long story short…she told me that there would be a meeting about my request for additional support hours for Jude and that I would get a call last week. No call occurred and I spent several days muttering to myself about how to make the next move. Then, this morning whilst leaving the supermarket (yes, I caved in and bought food), my Case Worker rang to let me know that my request had been granted and we have been allocated Support Worker funding for four hours a week term time and six hours a week holiday time! This is a vast improvement on our current 1.8 hours a week. I kid you not, it’s that specific.
I know that still sounds like a measly amount but it’s a step in the right direction. If we just continue to use those hours on fortnightly weekend, it means two short breaks each day or one long stint if we want to go out for a whole day.
Not because four hours a week is going to be life changing but because finally, I feel we are moving towards my aim for our family. I think I’ve at last cracked the council’s mathematical matrix. It’s taken me a year and a half to understand most of what we have to do and to get to where we are right now but at last, people are listening! Can you believe, we still haven’t had Jude’s autism assessment that he was referred for in November 2015? Ha! Not even joking. That’ll be something else to chase up tomorrow…
I feel awful wanting what I do but realistically, I have to consider ever member of this family. It isn’t just about Jude. When Jude is in one of his moods, and this is frequent, the whole household is on edge. I struggle to contain him and it can take regular hours of treading on egg shells, promising rewards, fluffy talk and general survival techniques just to get through a weekend. I’m miserable and I’m not able to give my all to the rest of the family.
To contrast the internal misery I seem to so regularly bestow on myself I thought I’d look up some positives of potentially sending Jude to a weekly boarding school:
- Consistency – the main reason I want him to board. What I want from school for Jude is the ability to look after himself as much as possible. He isn’t going to be a journalist or a doctor, an architect or a business manager and realistically, I just want him to be able to feed, dress and look after himself with minimal support. Residential schools will allow him constant contact with trained staff and the chance to practice his newly learnt self-care skills 24/7; the same rules will stand whether it’s traditional school hours or dinner time and this is the sort of consistency Jude requires in order to function at his best.
- Socialisation – Jude’s peers will be with him all the time which will allow him the chance to socialise more frequently. He will become accustomed to living with others and therefore functioning in a more ‘typical’ manner so for example supporting one another, helping with chores, managing out of school time, perhaps even learning a new activity with friends which isn’t possible outside of a residential setting due to the usual familial restraints.
- Lifelong learning skills – Jude will learn to use his initiative, to take responsibility, self-care skills, build stronger self-esteem, how to build relationships. He will find the education within a residential school more holistic in that it will treat his every want and need, academics, social, emotional as well as possible vocations.
- Better family quality time – When Jude returns home each weekend I think, as a family, we will function better. We’ll be able to dedicate more time to Jude and not have that drained 24/7 feel about life.
I know there are negatives but there are plenty of negatives to what we are doing by sending him to a day school. I’m excited for our future, I’m excited that I’m starting to find a way to engage with Jude more often so he has less frequent melt downs and I’m excited to see him grow into the teenager he’ll be in a very short while. Jude has so much going for him, we need to ensure we nurture this in the best possible way for everyone involved.