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Week in the life of a male foster carer 5th September – 11th September

‘Maybe I should trust him more that he has listened but that is not always easy.’



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 5th September

Most of today was good with T up well for school and having a great day. He has certainly started his new school year very positively. He has also had 4 straight days of positivity at home too so tonight after school we will be heading down to Smyth’s to buy a new toy. The new toy is a Spy Intruder Door Lock for his bedroom which is basically a magnetic door key which sets off an alarm if ‘anyone breaks in’ without the code. Which all seems fairly harmless until he starts having problems getting to sleep; he has managed to give himself the fear that someone is going to break in. But more on that in a minute because before I could discover this we have a big incident which went like this…

When we went to a recent family event T managed to lose both his portable DVD player and DS chargers. He believed he left them there which he told us, when he discovered they were missing, as if we were to blame. In fact he caused a bit of a scene about it. Anyway I had all the family members going through bags, checking rooms and tents and also going back to the hall to check there and to his rather unjoyful reaction one had been found and was being sent in the post. All’s well then but tonight T comes down stairs and says to me.

“Look what I have found in my bin. BOTH my chargers. How odd”

Now this was a bit odd as I knew that was not the case so I pressed him a bit but he was adamant that this was true. 5 minutes later I asked him again but this time suggesting that this may not be the case and he changed his story to finding one in the bin and one in his bag that he took. Ok, I thought, this is not right but he continued with this story so I told him that he needed to go to his room and have a think about what he was saying and then come back to me with the correct story. Now all through this he is getting angrier and angrier so I am also asking him to calm down too and this is becoming a bit of an incident. In fact it lasts for over an hour before he comes down and finally tells the truth. He had found them both in his bag and was trying to cover up because he was embarrassed and worried about the fuss he had made and what everyone else had done to help him. I am told that Foster kids do lie quite a lot and it’s not surprising sometimes. In the past the truth could end up in a beating. But really this is only the second time T has actually lied to us which is better than most but something he still needs to learn is wrong. The lesson for T here was that coming out with the truth in the beginning, as soon as you know you have made a mistake, is the only way forward. No one is going to yell at you for making a mistake and all we have to do is rectify the problem. The problems come when you try to cover your tracks. I hope T gets this because I want him to feel comfortable with us through the good things and the bad things. Needless to say he did not get to fit his new SPY door alarm. That will wait till tomorrow now.

Saturday 6th September

It is interesting to see a child after an incident the day after because they are a lot easier to get on with and also a lot more accommodating to what you are doing, almost like they have freed themselves up a bit. I will probably never know but how long had T known where the chargers were? T had a great day today and was happy and positive. And so I helped him to fit his new SPY door alarm. And what an irritating noise it makes but it keeps him happy and he plays with it for most of the day. But during dinner one part of the alarm falls off the door and so the alarm goes off. We tell him this but he won’t go up and turn it off with the code. Why we ask? I’m scared there’s a person up there… Over the next hour it falls off a few times and so we get the alarm but T won’t go up and sort it out. Eventually we take it down and assume that all is well which it is until bedtime and he won’t sleep. He is scared and hearing noises. Great! 30 minutes of putting him back to bed and checking on him result in a boy asleep finally but (and I can tell you this as I am writing this a week behind) this becomes a recurring thing nightly for a few nights (not tomorrow see below) and now he won’t sleep with the blind down and he wants a night light back. Toys eh…

Sunday 7th September

T has another good day except for lunch time when he wants to make his own lunch rather than pitch in with us so we all make lunch together. How do we solve this? We stick the radio on and everyone takes a job and gets on with it while chatting and having fun and T hates this as he feels he is missing out so within 1 minute he is asking for a job and rather than make a deal about it we just give him one and that’s that. If we had done this at first we would have missed out the 30 minute Mexican stand-off. Later on T starts helping a friend of my son, who has just moved in 2 houses down, to break down a wall in his front garden. This keeps him happy and as I know the friend very well, and spoken to him about safeguarding, I am happy for him to do this knowing he is safe and also using up loads of energy. He does not have the fear tonight for bed as he is too tired.

Monday 8th September

Back to school and it is a dressing up day. T loves dressing up and always goes for it. Today is about being an evacuee and so we dress him like we did for the family party in the summer. He looks fab and has a good day but we discover he is only one of three who dresses up. Sometimes I think the school gets things wrong because I get a lot of feedback when he has not been good but none when he really makes the effort. It would be nice if there was a bit more balance. Also the home-link report that we got last year has not happened yet. In it we get a break-down on his day and behaviour, and this is where we get the colour of the day, which goes from Gold-Silver-Green-Orange-Red, with Gold being best. The records help me to see which parts of the day he is successful in and which he is not which is really useful for me to help look for patterns. Are there certain lessons where there are problems or is it after lunch (because he is not mixing well with the other kids), things like that. If we find problems that are linked to specifics then we can look at that and help T to build up strategies. The home-link record is useful for us so we can discuss the day with T but also useful to the school because we can address good and bad behaviour at home through rewards. I will see if the home-link report starts and if not I will need to contact the school.

Tuesday 9th September

T has started not getting up in the morning which makes this part of the day a bit stressful. I seem to be always on his back to get a move on and he does not like that. I talk to him after school but he does not get it, or so he says, and thinks that I am just moaning at him but I point out that I would not if he just woke up 10 minutes earlier. He does not agree and storms off. There’s not a lot I can do about that as I can’t force him out of bed though I do drop hints that tomorrow I will not have a car as my daughter has it so if he does not get up and the taxi leaves without him then we will need to get another taxi and who will pay for that. I don’t think he is listening.

Wednesday 10th September

But of course he may seem grumpy and may seem like he is not listening but he is. This morning is having breakfast when I come down and it is a lovely relaxed morning with both of us happy. He is ready nice and early for his taxi. Maybe I should trust him more that he has listened but that is not always easy. I would prefer it if he answered me but I can’t have everything.

Later on I get an urgent phone call from Mum. T’s Great Grandad has had a stroke and she wants to know how best to approach this. It is a major one so it won’t be anything nice for T to see. I understand what Mum asks and say that it would be best coming from her on Saturday when he has a visit and she says she is worried, because it is my birthday, that it may be not such a good thing to deal with. That is nice of her to be concerned but I point out that this is more important. I also tell her that it would be best for T not to know that we have been talking about this behind his back and that she should tell him on Saturday and then text me so that T knows that I know when he comes home. Hopefully all will be ok but I do know that T is quite close to his Grandad so it might be a bit tough for him. Let’s see what Saturday brings.

Thursday 11th September

The big incident today, there is usually one a day, is a story that T told us about him getting in trouble at school. This took place in break and it involved T (these are his words and I have no evidence as of yet) being asked to play a game with some other kids which started off fine but ended with him getting ‘beaten up’ as he put it and having to defend himself to the point where someone got hit by a skipping rope he was wielding. T said the boys were picking on him and he was defending himself but ended up getting in trouble because someone got hurt. This is something I will need to check out so I will phone the school tomorrow. Apart from that he had another good day, in his words though as I still have not had the home-link report filled in, and came home with a Golden day. I will speak to the school tomorrow about the home-link report when I phone about the incident.