This is Joshua’s monthly weekend in respite – although this phrase is no longer used, he now has a short break! As it falls in the school holidays, so he is not receiving school transport, we have to deliver him for 2pm on Friday and collect him again at 10am on Monday. It takes over an hour from home to access his provision and can be nearer 2 hours if the traffic is particualrly heavy. We left home after 1pm yesterday and he arrived before 3pm,most of the local boys – there are only boys that stay on his weekend- were already there. It is funny to see that Joshua is the oldest there now.
Due to the heat, Joshua was wearing his Converse trainers rather than his heavy black NHS boots and splints, and all of the staff noticed and commented on his footwear immediately. He breezed in and made himself at home immediately, checking everywhere out. The bedrooms have all been re-decorated by a local construction company – as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility – so Joshua’s bedroom walls are now a smart baby blue colour and laminate fooring has been fitted too, all free of charge. Joshua will always sleep in the same bedroom, with the same bedding, as that is important to some of the children with Autism who attend, but I suspect that Joshua is oblivious. As long as he is surrounded by familiar staff and people who make a fuss of him and respond to his games and jokes, then he will be happy.
Given this heatwave, their priority this weekend is to keep Joshua cool, to minimise the risk of seizures. Hence the pumps on his feet, a more relaxed attitude towards his epilepsy helmet and I brought water spray to cool him down with. I bought a paddling pool too for the centre to use, so that Joshua , and the other residents, can cool their feet down in it . Since I delivered it however, the sky turned black and they have had hailstones and rain, so there may be no paddling this weekend!
We waved him off and he hardly gave us a backward glance, and after lunch and a brief shop in Town, we drove for another hour to the dales for a Short Break of our own.I called after 9pm, as I usually do, and was delighted to learn that he had eaten well and that he was on good form. While he was in his PJs and in his bed, they were expecting him to re-appear as he ‘hates to miss out when he can still hear the staff talking in the lounge’. He is a nosey lad and he would get even more attention if all of the other residents were in bed, so he will probably have lapped up the attention.
We are so lucky to have found the perfect respite provision for Joshua and he has enjoyed three happy years going there. I am very aware that he can no longer access this place and these lovely staff, from next March when he turns 18. I have already warned them about the tears that they can expect next year and I was told that I wouldnt be the only one crying, as they will miss Joshua too! We have now got somewhere more local to visit for when he becomes an adult, and at least I have a great model of what I am looking for. I just fear that anywhere else will find it hard to measure up as his current placement really is a Home from Home.