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Week in the life of a male foster carer 19th September – 25th September

‘So another week comes to an end. It has been really good and, like I have said before, much of that is down to a good structure and routine.’



Background

T has been with us for about 6 months. He is 10 years old and is diagnosed with ASD though it seems quite mild. Some of his symptoms that are attributed to ASD could also be just down to the fact that T is a 10 year old boy. In general he is a very happy lad but one who has moments of anxiety and has some problems dealing with his emotions. Because of his condition he does get fixated on things so he has a strong passion for cars and certain movies and TV programmes and at the moment he has a sometimes unhealthy obsession with Loom Bands (tiny little elastic bands that the kids make into bracelets).

I am married with three children, one at home, one at University and one living just down the road, and I am the main carer as my wife has a full time job as an Assistant Principal at a Sixth Form College.

 

Friday 19, Saturday 20, Sunday 21 and Monday 22 September

Even though T always tells me he hates KIDS he is still up early this morning ready to go with a smile on his face. What am I to believe? I’ve packed his weekend bag ready the night before so it is not stressful this morning and all is good. The taxi comes and takes him to school and I now won’t see him till Monday after school which, though it may seem like a long time, is great for my family to get together and be who we are. It’s funny because we treat T like a member of the family and he is fully included in all we do but you can’t escape the fact that he is not family. I think we take for granted the natural bond that we have with our own children that comes with time. T has been with us for exactly 9 months this weekend and in the big scale of things that is nothing.

When T comes back on Monday the first thing I do, after saying hello and asking him how the weekend went, is to read through the notes sent from KIDS. This was the first thing I read;

“T was in a good mood when we picked him up from school. He said he was looking forward to staying at KIDS as he had not seen the staff for a while”

I tell T this and he denies it but I think it is true and deep down he does enjoy it. He likes the staff as they treat him with respect. He also gets loads of treats but I am happy to see that again they have kept him to early bedtimes and that shows in his behaviour.

And T is in a great mood even though I tell him we will be doing homework, which is set on Friday. All in all a good response and a good attitude. A golden day at school too.

Tuesday 23 September

T was very slow this morning getting ready for school and so he was a bit late for the Taxi. They have told us before that they will only wait for 3 minutes so I suppose we are lucky it is still there. Though I do think a bit more leniency on their side would be nice as most children being picked up by taxis are in similar situations to T, either with being fostered and having a medical condition, and so may have difficulties keeping to times. T is not too bad now but he does have moments. It seems that sometimes he can be easily distracted. More urgency tomorrow as it sometimes takes him a while to get back into the rhythm of things.

During the day I received an email from the local Secondary school offering T a Taster day where he will come in and shadow a couple of year 7 pupils which is good. If he can go to the local mainstream school it will be hugely significant to him and his quest to be just like any other child around here. Let’s hope the taster day goes well. I am taking T and Mum to an Open Evening for that school next Monday and I am hoping that I can get Mum into the idea. If he is going to stay with us long term then a local school to us is best so that he can go in with the other children and hang out with them after school. Mum is generally good about these things but it is still her decision.

T came home from school and I told him about the Taster day and Open evening and he seemed excited which is great because I am already finding it a bit daunting. I must remember it is not me going.

Wednesday 24 September

T was back on speed getting ready this morning so all was cool there. Sadly though, after finally getting the school to fill in the home-link report, we discovered that the day had not been as good as before and that the others had not been as good as T claimed either. The point of the home-link report is to provide information to us on how his behaviour and work have been and then from that we can then provide reasonable support to him and the school. For example, if he has a good day, overall green and above, then he can play on the PlayStation, TV or the computer and we can offer much praise and if not, either a yellow or red day, then he does not get these treats. This, we believe, allows him to have control of his own life. If he can get a good report, and it is not hard because even if he has a blip in the day he can still make it back up, then he can reward himself with some fun at home. And he responds to this well and never asks for anything if the day was not good. And since we started this his behaviour has been much better so it must be working and also it does prove that he can actively take control of his life, especially if there is something at stake, and therefore it is not his condition that is ruling him. This will be so valuable in the future for us and for him.

Thursday 25 September

So another week comes to an end. It has been really good and, like I have said before, much of that is down to a good structure and routine. T’s behaviour at school has not been as good as we thought; now the school are filling in the home-link reports, but it is still considerably better than the end of last year and he is well settled in our house after the holidays. Homework is coming together nicely and this time if the school stops handing it out we will continue. We personally have spellings as his main target because that is a real weakness and will certainly hold him back if it is not addressed before Secondary School. And just to note, he came home really happy today because his teacher said his reading was a level that a year 7 child would be aiming for which is brilliant. Inside there is a real intelligence and the task to us is getting to it and also in getting him to believe it.