The purpose of respite, as far as I am concerned, is to give the parents a break from their child for a short time but also for the young person to gain some independence from their parents. It is not natural – I really hate the word ‘normal’! -for an 18.5 year old to spend as much of his time with his parents as Joshua does with us. In an ideal world, he would be out with his friends, or have a part time job, not relying upon us to entertain him and to fill his school holidays. But we do not live in an ideal world, so we have to create a situation where we have some freedom from each other.
I delivered Joshua to his respite place at lunchtime yesterday, and he was happy to go there and , once inside, he was confident in his surroundings. I helped him through the garden gate and told him to knock on the door, while I went back to the car for his wheelchair, but he stood in the garden looking from me to the door, uncertain about what to do. Luckily he was spotted from inside and his carer came out to greet him, then he happily walked indoors. He sat on the leather settee and began waving at me, indicating that I was dismissed, no longer required. I stayed a while longer, to report on the events and changes from over the summer, then left them to it, walking away with a spring in my step, knowing that I had plans between then and Monday morning when I will collect him.
It was not always so easy to walk away :I used to worry a lot about him when he was out of my sight and I found not knowing about what he was doing 24 hours a day, difficult to adjust to. I have heard other parents say that they felt guilty about accepting respite, but I have never felt that way. I know that the short break is as good and necessary for Joshua, as it is for us. We all need some space from each other to top up our batteries and to appreciate what we have at home better, as absence does make the heart grow fonder. It is all about finding the staff that you trust to do a great job of caring for your son , in an environment where you know that he will be safe, comfortable and happy. We have been very fortunate with the provision that we have accessed and the fact that Joshua has settled in so well at his latest placement.
I know need to find somewhere that I am equally happy with for daycare, which we will need from next summer when Joshua leaves school. I have set myself a deadline of this Autumn term to visit all of the local options ,so that I can make a selection by Christmas, which would give Joshua’s social worker six months then to complete the necessary paperwork and make it happen. That sounds achievable now, but we all know how quickly the weeks speed by, so I need to crack on if I am adhere to my own timetable.