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 27th February – Thursday 5th March
There is definitely a feeling that we have returned to a more balanced household of late, not to say that it is all plain sailing, but it is easier. This week started off with an INSET day which for some reason T believes is a day he can spend in his PJs watching TV. Fourteen months he has been here and he still thinks like that. Will he ever adapt to our way of living? I suppose that is hard when he has contact which just returns him to all his old ways. It will be a quest this year to really get Mum on board in all aspects of parenting.
So, anyway, INSET day: it was not the best of days we’ve had. Here are the four main moans he raised which in turn resulted in some kind of altercation.
- He wanted to watch TV before everyone else had left for work or college. This is not how we do it in our house with precedence going to those still working when INSET/ holiday days are concerned. This is a rule that has been in place since he arrived so why it would suddenly change I don’t know.
- He wanted to dictate how the day would go with a visit to my Mum’s because he did not want to take his shoes off. It seems really silly but we were going on a dog walk first but he already had his trainers on (wellies for the dog walk) and so wanted to change around the day so he did not have to take his shoes off.
- Suddenly decided that he did not want pizza (his favourite) for tea because he was going to his Mum’s the next day and she will probably serve it. ‘YOU GET SOMETHING ELSE IN CAUSE MY MUM IS TOO POOR TO BUY EXPENSIVE MEALS’ is what he said to me before choosing a lovely pizza from the shop.
- Also decided that getting to his Mum’s by 10am was too stressful because he did not have enough time (he gets up at 7am and spends an hour watching TV) and that I SHOULD take him over the night before. Something I am not allowed to do, just change contact hours like that. He knows this but I think by now he is just looking for things to get across about.
Now there is a clear relationship to his poor behaviour due to stress and anxiety that comes from contact with Mum. It is not unusual on the morning before contact but there is no reason that it is not there the day before too if he is not at school and focused. I believe that is something we will have to get used to and learn to manage.
For the rest of the weekend T was at Mum’s and so everything was quiet and when he came back he was fine and relaxed. He did have a small graze/cut on his wrist which Mum said she had done accidently in the swimming pool while playing with him. I fully believe her but it does throw up the issue that as a foster carer you have to be really aware of things like this and that there has to be a part of you that always has to be suspicious of any incidents. When I picked T up after he had broken his thumb over Christmas I was told by my fostering agency to be very vigilante and to make sure that I got a story that I believed. And like I said I was completely happy both times but it does make you feel like you have to play the detective and to try to uncover all sides of a story. You know it is the right thing to do but it makes you feel like you don’t trust anyone.
The other big thing that happened this week was that we held T’s 6 monthly ‘Children who are Looked After’ (CLA) review at our house. For those who don’t know, this is when T’s care plan is reviewed and everyone involved is invited to a meeting to discuss him, and this includes T himself. How daunting that must be for the young people. All those old people making decisions on your life! So for this meeting there was T, his Mum, T’s social worker, my supervising social worker, myself and an independent chairperson. Also my wife often makes it but could not today and also the SEN from T’s school was meant to come but could not so made her apologies. Quite a group! And of course T was brilliant like he always is in this meeting. Don’t know why and it wasn’t always like that but he was. So the meeting consists of the chairperson going through the last review and checking on progress and also about checking that targets set have been made. Most things were spoken about including schools, behavioural issues, his condition and his needs and to be honest anything else that may have come up. I always feel a bit uncomfortable that T is in the room for this even if he is on the PlayStation for much of the ‘boring adult talk.’
One main thing we talked about was a discussion about bringing in an independent autism consultant to evaluate T’s place on the spectrum and to look at creating a personal development plan for him. This has now been organised and we have a date set for April so I am looking forward to this. It will be paid out of T’s Disability Living Allowance (DLA) because this will be an essential piece of information for his future. We are hoping to learn a lot more about his needs and the way that his brain works so that we can develop our caring to suit him. I have been on courses and read up on Autism but nothing is going to help us more than a specific piece of work done on T that will inform us about his specific needs. Anyway I’ll write about that later when it has been completed.
The rest of the week was fine with no major issues or changes. I do really hope T is through this blip on his development and behaviour and is ready to move on because this year is so important to him but, if we are not careful, it also has the potential to be a crisis year too.