Last night, a man who used to take care of Joshua in his childhood respite provision, paid Joshua some big compliments in response to a photograph that I had posted on Facebook, after our town beacon had been lit. He responded to the picture by saying that he was a ‘really special young man’ and that he felt ‘privileged to have met him’. He then added that he was ‘a credit to me’. I am always moved when people recognise that Joshua is special and they truly see his personality and his sense of humour. This care-worker always used to call him ‘Clarky’ and I can recall him telling me one weekend that they had gone on a trip to the seaside in their mini bus and on the way back, he had heard a deep voice saying ‘Clarky’ back to him. I always felt at that respite provision that they saw and accessed the real Joshua and he loved to go there every fourth weekend. We were devastated when he turned 18, three years ago now, and he could no longer attend as he was not a child anymore, but they gave him a wonderful leaving party.

But not only did he compliment Joshua, he complimented me too, in saying that Joshua was a credit to me. We will never know how much of the Joshua we see today is due to nature or nurture but I am happy to take some of the credit. The fact that he has blossomed during lockdown and that he seems to have gained confidence, has certainly gained language and he has acquired some free-thinking independent spirit too. You would think that two years in virtual isolation, just seeing his parents every day, all day, would cause him to withdraw and possibly even regress, but he always was contrary, and the opposite seems to have happened in Joshua’s case. The pandemic, with hindsight, actually did him a big favour as he got what he maybe always wanted : time at home with his Mum as his carer. Now that I see how happy he is at daycare, I realise, with regret, that he did not enjoy 6th form at school as much as he did the previous years, and so, curtailing it early in March 2020, may have been the best thing for him.

So now we find ourselves in a good, happy place : Joshua is on great form and he is loving daycare on 3 days a week, so he gets the best of both worlds – mixing with other young people and staff and doing a variety of activities with them, then still 4 days a week at home with his parents , who are able to devote more time to him. And seeing Joshua thriving, helps to keep me positive and happy too. I am delighted that Joshua is a credit to me and I will gladly take that compliment.

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