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Week in the life of a male foster carer Blog – 1st January to 8th January

‘I believe he was grateful for the return to 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.

 

Thursday 1st January
So the year started with T at his Mum’s. He’d been there since New Year’s Eve and was coming home on the 2nd before going off to KIDs for respite till the 4th; time to be an adult, so we invited a few friends to stay after the New Years’ festivities. But as you know all the best laid plans always seem to go astray. Unbeknown to us T had fallen while out with Mum and though she had not thought too much of it, he often makes a big fuss over little things, it seems that it had been a bit more serious. Luckily for me I had had enough of all the fun and had got a relatively early night,

Friday 2nd January
So the day started with me receiving a phone call from Mum. Apparently T was still in a bit of pain early in the morning so she had taken him to the doctor’s to have him checked out (I still did not know about the fall at this point). They had decided that there might be something more serious so had sent him to the local hospital’s minor injuries clinic where they had discovered that there was a break in his thumb. This is when Mum called me and filled me in with the facts and advised me that the KIDS respite may be difficult as T was very upset (not necessarily from pain but more embarrassment as apparently he had tripped over a cushion while visiting Mum’s friends).

And so began the first of an afternoon of phone calls informing the relevant people and making sure I followed all the correct procedures. This was of course Friday the 2nd January and quite a few places were only on emergency contact due to the holidays. Firstly I needed to inform T’s social worker so that I could be clear on how to proceed. They were concerned that an accident while on contact could suggest other things and so T’s social worker needed to talk it through with her boss as well before decisions could be made. I also needed to talk to my supervising social worker and Families Fostering so that they knew what was going on and that I also followed the correct procedure with them. I also needed to talk to the KIDS staff and explain to them what was happening (this one was the hardest as I kept leaving answer phone messages but they were not getting them and were phoning me to try and find out why T had not turned up) and finally I had to keep Mum informed as to everything that was happening.

Once everyone knew what was happening it was left to me to make a decision on what happens next. I was trying to arrange that T stayed with Mum for the night because it felt to me that being with his Mum would be best. Once T’s social worker had spoken to me and Mum they decided that it was a genuine accident but that I should go down and pick them both up from the hospital and check to see where would be the best place for him to stay. Families Fostering agreed with this too so I headed down to get them. KIDS were still phoning me and I was leaving messages so hoped that finally that would be sorted. It had been a long day for them both and T was subdued and at first he wanted to come back with me, which was fine but then he decided that Mum would be nicer as he could have the full ‘hug and caring’ experience. I said if he came home with me then we would go and pick up a burger because I had missed my dinner and so had he. And typically he said “can we go to a restaurant instead” which made me realise that T would milk this for as much as possible. Only a boy like T would suggest a restaurant over a burger! Anyway eventually it was decided that Mum would have him and feed him and pamper him which, I think, was right. I got home, had my cold dinner and a glass of wine. What a day.

Saturday 3rd January
Went to pick up T today and he was fine. He was certainly playing on it a bit but you can’t blame him. He had a very lazy day with Mum and was quite happy not to be at KIDS to be honest. He will need help, tying shoe laces, getting dressed, eating some foods, at least for a few days, and also there will be a few safeguarding things to consider around bathing and dressing so I will need to dip into the Foster Carers Handbook for advice. He can’t get the cast wet so we will have to wrap it in a bag or cling film till he gets the proper one on Monday but also he won’t be able to wash his hair so will need help with that. We decided on swimming shorts for the first part of the bath which worked well and we ended the day as we always do with a story before bed. I believe he was grateful for the return to routine. We will have a lazy day tomorrow and then I will take him to the fracture clinic at the big hospital on Monday so that he can have a proper cast down.

Sunday 4th January
We also had a lazy day allowing him to just relax but we will be careful from tomorrow to make sure he does not take advantage of the situation. For example, he won’t be able to dry up after dinner for a while but we will insist that he puts the things away instead and at least contributes a small amount.

Monday 5th January
So today we are going to the fracture clinic to get the permanent cast on. The morning goes well and T is OK but a bit stroppy, probably a bit anxious I suspect. From about 8am he is desperate to leave even though I tell him the appointment is at 9.55am. I keep telling him we will just end up waiting in the clinic which will be dull so we might as well wait here. Eventually though he gets the better of me and we leave for the 20 minute journey at 9am. When we get there we book in but they are not expecting us so now I am worried we will have a bit of a wait and T will get stressed. Lucky that we did leave early as now it is a first come first served basis as we don’t have a booking. So we wait. And we wait. And I hear plenty of ‘oh gods’ and big sighs (the DS only keeps him happy for about 20 minutes) but eventually the doctor sees us and yes there is one break and he will have a soft cast which means he will be discharged today and I will be able to just peel it off in 4 weeks. It is still hard and supportive but basically a bandage. So not as bad as it could have been! All in all it took 2 and a half hours and considering what T is like it actually is fairly painless.

While we were there T had asked whether he would need the rest of the day off school and pleasingly the doctor left it to me so as soon as we finished I took him to school. He wasn’t too sad as he knew he would be a hero for the afternoon and I was pleased that he would get the attention over and done with and be able to get back to working as soon as possible. After school he was a bit needy and tried to get away with doing as much as possible but every time he said he could not do something I would show him that I could using only one hand too. I know some things, like writing and doing up laces, would be hard at first but he is still capable of doing most things so we won’t let him get away with too much.

Tuesday 6th January
Most of today was OK but I had to take T shoe shopping after school and that didn’t go too well. Because they did not have his size in a shoe he liked (he is very specific about his shoe needs) he started moaning and raising his voice at me to the point where I thought stuff it and we went home having bought nothing. Later on I went online and bought all the clothes and shoes he had wanted and it was so stress free that I might have to do it that way every time. I hope they fit because if they do I will just get his clothes this way because shopping has never been much fun.

Wednesday 7th January
It turns out that T has Christmas homework. I had checked his homework book and found none so I had not pushed it but tonight T came to me and said I need to do my homework. I told that I had not found any but he insisted there was so I went through his book bag and sure enough there it was. So I said to T we better get this homework done thinking that he had asked for a reason and the first thing he said to me was “I’m not doing it. I don’t want to do it” and stormed off. Sometimes it can be really confusing. I thought it was him that suggested it not me. Anyway eventually we made a start. Saxons are this half terms theme which is cool as I know very little about them.

Thursday 8th January
Apart from a few moments where T tried to get out of things because of his cast it was a quiet day today. He did get a bit cross this morning when I asked him to go back and spend more time on his teeth, storming upstairs calling me ‘stuck up’. So after school I challenged him to explain what it means to be ‘stuck up’ and he said someone who does not allow someone else to do something. OK. ‘Firstly I was not stopping you from doing anything, I was encouraging you to be healthy, and secondly NO that is not what ‘stuck up’ means.’ I explained the correct definition and realised, thankfully, that we can find an educational lesson in anything.