It is a really difficult balance to achieve : to offer Joshua some much-needed personal freedom but also to keep him safe. When he wanted to go to the front of the stage in Cowes to feel the music from the giant speakers and to see the singers and instruments up close, I was happy to let him wander. But there was a concrete step and there were crowds of people, so I hovered around attentively, so that should he stumble or should an odd member of the audience approach him, I was on hand to guide him. Occasionally I would sit down and let his dad take over but he is more anxious and protective generally, so that he would keep hold of his son and Joshua would drag him around. That snapshot possibly sums up our different approaches to parenting.
I think it is important that Joshua experiences as much as he can of what a ‘normal’ 14 year old does, whereas his dad is more risk averse and would tend more towards keeping him safe. He was horrified when I reported what happened back in 2010 when I took him for a day of watersports with a friend, organised by the Local Authority for children with special needs. He went for an inflatable ring ride towed by a boat on a lake. He was wearing a life jacket but he slid down inside the ring so that he ended up with his bottom low in the water and his feet in the air. I was mortified when he came back to the shore and my husband would have said that he should not have gone but I took him because I wanted him to have every opportunity possible – this did not work out, but it could have been his favourite activity ever!
Joshua enjoys Riding for the Disabled too, sitting on top of a tall horse every other Monday night through the Spring/Summer. Horse riding is clearly not without its safety risks but RDA take all possible precautions to keep him safe and so that is good enough for me.