I began the search for day care yesterday with a visit to one of the possibilities in our area – there seem to be 5 or 6 that might be suitable for Joshua’s needs. This one seemed to be the most keen as they called me in response to my emailed enquiry and they even spoke to school about Joshua and his needs, which showed initiative. They have two sites and I chose to visit the one that was closest to home, which is based on a business park on the edge of town, 12 miles away.
It was a lovely surprise when I arrived to see two familiar faces of ex-pupils from Joshua’s school that I knew, so that was encouraging. The man who showed me around was a member of staff, who’s daughter was their first ‘member’ so he was passionate about how much fun the young people have and how much his daughter loves to be there. In the lounge area, there were two young people playing pool and my first thought was the damage that Joshua could do to the windows if he threw pool balls. some were sitting on settees and more were huddled around computers watching films or playing games I think. The tour included the changing facilities, a kitchen where they cook daily, a gym , a sensory room, a woodworking workshop full of tools! and an outside space with picnic benches for eating outside.
I have nothing yet to compare it with so I have made notes to refer back to , but it was not homely, but that will not be what they were aiming for and it did have the benefit of space. Joshua would be supervised I am sure, but I was concerned by the chaos and danger that he could create with pool balls and cues, weights , saws and screwdrivers. I am usually largely unaware of health and safety risks – that is my husband’s department to worry about such things! – but these leapt out at me while looking around.
I realised also that there is a fine line between allowing the young people to choose what they would like to do and offering structured entertainment. I was told that each morning they have ‘circle time’ when they discuss the plan for the day and what activities are planned and the young people are allowed to opt out if they like. That is great for the verbal ‘members’ and those who are able to make such choices, but what about Joshua? He would shake his head to everything that he was offered, even the things that he loved. So he would end up going with the majority vote but then when he got there and saw what it actually was, he would vote with his feet and refuse to get off the mini bus if it was not to his liking. That being said, he would need some structure and encouragement to try the gym, karaoke machine or the pool table or else he would be liable to sit all day , watch others and kick doors.
It was a really useful introduction to the world of daycare and it was a really good start as a point of comparison for my next visits, but the most important thing is that I have taken the first steps.