This week social media has been full of photographs of smartly dressed children going off to their first day at nursery, primary school or ‘big school’. The parents are proud, afraid or in disbelief at where the time has flown to. I did not take a picture of happy Joshua , kicking the gate, eager to get into the taxi but I was one of the ‘ where has the time gone’ parents.Yesterday marked the start of the final year of Joshua’s school career; he has been going to school for 14 years, which is over three quarters of his life, and we still do not have a plan for what will take its place this time next year
I am envious of those just starting out on their school journey as it feels a safe, friendly, protected environment compared to the unknown world of adult daycare. In an ideal world, Joshua should be leaving 6th form to go off to university, taking a giant step in independence and the start of his career path. But instead, we are going to start to look for an adult equivalent of school, where he can mix with people of his same age, do interesting activities to amuse him and to have a regular routine that will get him out of the house and meeting other people. I have a list of local providers and my first task is to ascertain who can handle his epilepsy, as some may not have the training or confidence in administering his rescue medication. Then I will visit the remaining providers on the list, meet the staff, observe the facilities and current users and learn more about what activities they can offer. Some pupils from Joshua’s school are able enough to complete further education or to undertake some supervised employment, but Joshua will not be seeking either of these opportunities. I will continue to look for what I have always said are my priorities for him : to be happy and safe, and learning something along the way would be a bonus.
So I do not take Joshua’s school days for granted, but I appreciate the care and fun that he has had at his current special school, where he has been for 8 years now. Apparently he gave his teaching assistant a big hug when he saw her yesterday morning, I knew he would be pleased to see her again. Joshua does not realise that this routine will end next July, he is oblivious to the impending change. Whereas I am very focused on it and will be aware that I will be attending the last ever school harvest next month – no doubt it will make me cry like my first one there did!- and the final Christmas performance, so I am going to try to attend everything that I can, to make the most of these precious school days. They say that your school days are the best of your life and I certainly loved my time at school, and I wonder if that will be true for Joshua? Who knows what the future brings? But on the whole, I would say that he has enjoyed his school days at this particular school and I am so pleased that these days, he is awake and alert enough to make his presence felt.