So today and yesterday I visited the two potential schools for Jude and I was totally blown away. They are so so lovely. The amount of outside space in both, the friendliness of the staff, the relaxed attitude to life in general all follows the needs of Jude.
I have a preference to one over the other and it’s because of a few reasons. Firstly, the children are more severely disabled which may sound like a bit of a weird reason to prefer a school however, I think it really suits Jude and his confidence. He recognises when he isn’t keeping up with people and knows when his efforts aren’t quite as good as others. Basically, this school is full of Jude’s. The attitude towards learning and education is therefore very laid back. They see that the children at their school are never realistically going to live alone or have “normal” jobs so focus on life skills, teaching the children how to do their washing/cooking/shopping, how to take care of themselves and basically be as independent as possible. Obviously, they push those academically who are capable but I’m under no allusion that Jude is one of those. Classrooms are used more of a base and each child is very much educated at their own levels.
The way I was welcomed at this school was amazing. They expressed such interest in Jude, his likes and dislikes and the lady showing me around kept displaying great excitement that Jude may be joining their little community. She asked to see a picture of him and said he is adorable. These little personal touches and expressions of warmth and open-armed welcomeness is something I have never really experienced with Jude in any way whatsoever so I think we may have found somewhere he can flourish.
The residential side is fantastic. Rather than a big block of rooms dorm-style, they children are put up in one of a row of houses. Each house has a large kitchen, living room, dining area, bathrooms and then all the bedrooms which each child can have decorated however they want. The houses have their own little gardens but there is larger garden space for the children to play in outside of their own little quarters.
As an addition, there’s an indoor pool, an onsite Occupational Therapist and Speech Therapist, Ball pool room, and chill out rooms. Basically, Jude will be able to find his little safe spaces, socialise when he wants, learn lots and still be close enough to home to have regular visits from us and trips back with us when he wants.
I’m really positive about his/our futures. It feels like everything is all working out at last.
We have our holiday in just over a weeks time which will also be wonderful. As I’ve mentioned before, we aren’t taking Jude which will be the first time this decision has been made. I don’t feel bad about it though; he is having a week with his Granny which he will absolutely adore (plus school) and in reality, that week will be as much fun for him as it is for us. I need a break. I need a real holiday which sadly, means a little bit of time away from Jude. Again, I don’t feel bad about this. Jude’s father is sadly not willing to take a few hours off each day to collect him from school and therefore look after him for the week but thankfully, he has his Granny. I think this is a better option all round anyway as she will be moving into our house and retaining that normal pattern of life for Jude. I was told by Jude’s father that it “isn’t his fault I’ve decided to leave Jude behind and go on holiday” which would have bothered me in the past but I know the reality of it all now. I’m not leaving Jude behind. I’m recharging, we’re all recharging and I don’t apologise for needing that. Especially to someone who takes several holidays a year without the children, barely enters their lives on any emotional level and takes no responsibility whatsoever.
Jude and Granny last summer…he’s now pretty much the same height as her!
I fill my life with positive people these days. I can feel the energies changing, my mind is clearing and I’m hopeful that we’re moving into the next chapter of our lives. Emmeline is growing up fast, Elsa is slowly taking over the world and Joe and I are planning new things all the time, it’s so cool to watch life evolve.
Fingers crossed that the Panel (mysterious people that they are…) give a final YES to this fantastic school for Jude.