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Week in the life of a male foster carer 28th November – 4th December

‘It must be a tough job being a social worker as they get a lot of flak from all sides and I am sure you have to develop a thick skin to cope.’


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 28 November

Today was good. T was in a fine mood and he was up and ready for school in good time. After school he came home and kicked back as he had had a reasonable week and so he was happy.

Saturday 29 November

But what a contrast to yesterday today was. He spent most of the day really cross. First of all he moaned at me when we got up (glad I was up at 7am for him) because last week had not been very good for earning Saturday TV and so he only had 20 minutes. He would not take responsibility and blamed me for it rather than his inability to get ready for school on time. He also blamed the dog because if we did not have one he would have been able to come downstairs on his own in the morning and so get ready for school earlier and so get morning TV. He can’t come down because he can’t be trusted with the dog and even though I am up and dressed before him he still says he would get downstairs earlier. Again he will not take responsibility. How about getting up and dressed when I do as that will be plenty of time to do the morning jobs. I buckled a bit here and said that I would get up earlier (10 minutes) so he can. We will test this next week.

Later in the day we had the opticians because he had snapped his glasses in half. This was also not his fault because the boy who called him a name caused it. Anyway he would not put his shoes on to get in the car; I had also booked up my daughter as she needed a check-up too, and so we just left and got in the car. He was quick to follow us as he gets scared on his own. Is it right that I use his fears? I don’t tease him but I know he will not want to be on his own. What will I do when he is older and braver? At the opticians he was horrible. He moaned all the way, told us the glasses were rubbish and started kicking off because he could not have them straight away. I had told him that he would need to wait a week but he decided to complain as the lady was serving us anyway. He would not take responsibility that we were there because of him still. Got home, had tea and then off to bed for him so I could have some peace and quiet. At last!

Sunday 30 November

T went to Mum’s today and for once the morning was fine. This was, in part, because I said we would pop into Halfords on the way and pick up some spray paint as I was going to show him how to paint a car properly. He always responds well to rewards.

When I picked him up he was very happy and Mum had given him some old pictures of him and his Dad which he had never seen. His Dad has been out of the picture for most of his life but he was till pleased to have the photos. I think it made him feel a bit more ‘normal’ and a bit more complete.

Monday 1 December

T was off to school fine this morning. I got up and dressed 10 minutes earlier and so did he so he was ready to go to school 25 minutes earlier. We could have kept the old way if he just got up on time but oh well at least this worked. He came home and just got on with his homework which is great. Once a routine is in place, for example the homework, then he is good and that is why it is important for the school to keep setting it. Last year they did it until February and then stopped and so we got him into the habit and then he lost it and we had to start again. This year if they do that again then I will set homework. He won’t be happy with that but we think it will be important. They will not let him off homework in Secondary school.

Tuesday 2 December

Today was the visit of T’s social worker. This is not his favourite day which I suspect has much to do with his relationship with her because she has been there from the beginning and so he may blame her for what has happened in his life. It must be a tough job being a social worker as they get a lot of flak from all sides and I am sure you have to develop a thick skin to cope. Anyway today was not too bad as I stuck T on the laptop playing games and so he was occupied with something else and did not moan about things. We discussed Christmas visits and got all them planned out (useful for us and Mum to know what we are doing), talked about his school behaviour and Secondary school enrolment and she checked out his bedroom just to make sure we weren’t keeping him locked up somewhere. Anyway all was good but after he did kick off a bit because we did not have time to spray paint the car. We did get all the prep work done which was all I wanted to do but he got it in his mind that we would finish it. The point of this project for me is to teach patience and how to develop a project and not rush it. Ah well, all good in the end and we will spray the car tomorrow.

Wednesday 3 December

Another good start to the day so the TV quota is going up for the weekend. After school was a different matter though with T just not up to doing his homework. Trust me for getting complacent. Part of today’s problem was that we were going to spray the car and he just wanted that but he knows that rewards come after work so I’m not sure why he is like this. School had not been too good so maybe that was part of it. I think there might be a bit of bullying going on but I also think that T is giving as good as he gets. The problem with this sort of thing is it is impossible to ever know exactly what is what. Eventually he calmed down but it took 65 minutes to do just 15 minutes work.

Thursday 4 December

So, not too bad today but there was an incident this morning with T threatening to hit me with his shoe. At the time I said don’t do that but did not push it as he was just about to leave for school but when he came home I took him to the place where he did it, asked him to take off his shoe and then raised it up as if to hit him. He cowered and so I asked him how it felt. He said it did not feel very nice and so I said that was how I felt and that he must never ever do that again. I hope he got the message. But was I mean? Sometimes it takes something like this to get the message across but that does not mean it is right.