They say that pride comes before a fall, well then I had better be careful that I don’t fall over today! At Joshua’s Annual Review yesterday, I swelled with pride as I heard about how well he has settled in his respite provision and how fond the staff are of him after just four overnight weekends. They attended the meeting and it was great to see that Joshua not only recognised them out of context, but he kissed the supervisor on top of her head – he was genuinely pleased to see them in school. Joshua may well not reach his academic milestones, but I am delighted that he uses every ounce of his being to endear himself to others and to make others happy.
Back in nursery school, the Headteacher wrote in his leaving report when he was 4 years old that he had ‘a real skill for winning hearts’. She was very perceptive and he has maintained that skill throughout his life so far, despite the obstacles that he has faced : potentially epilepsy, surgery and endless hospital appointments could have turned him sour. But Joshua’s sunny personality shines through despite all of that and I cannot hear that too much.
We discussed the issue of his willingness to hug adults as I queried how, when he is 30 years old, his random hugs for strangers might be perceived. We discussed how school could try to encourage him to greet strangers in a more detached way, such as a handshake or a high 5. His high 5’s sting, he gives them with such force. Then, having asked the question, I realised that it made me sad, the thought that my friendly son would be deprived of his hugs and the joy that they can spread, just for the 5% of strangers who do not appreciate his warm gesture. We agreed that we need to keep him safe as a vulnerable adult but it was also pointed out that he will never be out in the community alone and so his carer will always be able to intercept and act as a buffer or a distraction. So as far as I am concerned, for now at least, the bear-hugs can stay!
I also asked that Joshua is challenged in the future to be more physically active; unfortunately he was asleep when the meeting began, despite a good night’s sleep. His teacher pointed out that on Monday he had had both swimming at school and horse-riding at night, so maybe that combination had worn him out. But other than those two activities, Joshua these days tends to sit in his armchair when he gets in from school and after his tea, he often nods off. They are going to try more sports and outdoor activities to get him more active, but within his comfort zone, be it on a treadmill, trampoline or dancing. At least we were all agreed that he is not a team player, so nobody was advocating that he joins a football team for instance!
So it was a constructive discussion and now I know the direction that we all want him to head in, Joshua of course may have his own ideas, as ever!