Thursday, 20 September 2007

A New Home for my Disabled Son?

My older son, Colm, has severe learning difficulties (i.e. he's mentally handicapped), autism and Asperger Syndrome. He's currently living in the psychiatric ward at Exeter Hospital (if you want to know why, click on the link), where he has now been for over 6 weeeks. It is a temporary measure, so local Social Services Department and Marie & I are all looking for a new permanent placement for him. Luckily, Colm is quite happy at the hospital - and we call to see him and take him out every couple of weeks - so we have time to consider things properly and look for the best possible solution.

Last week, we heard about a residential home close to our home which might meet Colm's needs. Marie & I wanted to see it and assess it, the staff, the facilities and overall suitability of the place. A meeting was arranged on site. But the building was large - 14 bedrooms - so Marie was apprehensive (understatement!) about going there. A reconnaissance trip was required.

So two days ago, we drove there to see if Marie was going to be able to gain access. The (attractive) building (see picture) is set at right angles to the road and there was a medium length path to the front door. Unsuitable for Marie. However, to the rear there was a courtyard with vehicle access and another door. We spotted a member of staff having a cigarette in the garden, and asked her if we could speak to the manager.

Within a couple of minutes a lady came out to see us (we were still in the car). We discussed the layout of the building, where the meeting would be held and the possibility of accessing it by parking near the rear door (the manager told us that it would be arranged for us). When we left, Marie was much less anxious about going to the meeting.

The meeting was today. Marie not only managed to get into the building, but also completed a tour of the house and walked to a large walled garden to the rear. Although she began to panic at one point, she was able to control it and the rest of the visit was without incident.

Colm's accommodation, should he go there, was superior and the staff are superb. We both felt that this home could provide Colm with good care and opportunities for personal development, but we have some reservations, too. We have another, smaller, home to see in the not-too-distant future, so we don't have to make any decisions immediately.

Marie & I both feel that the worry we have both felt about Colm's position is much decreased, now that potential homes have been identified.

The best news is that this successful trip is only part of Marie's ongoing improvement in her condition. She takes Joseph to school (by car) every morning, now, and has been working every day. Her attitude has most definitely changed and she has noticed this too, although she is scared that she might slip backwards.

I'm trying my best to keep her thinking positively and doing all I can to quietly encourage her to progress. I hope it works...


Sarah♥ said...


Sounds like Marie is getting on really well. She/you should be very happy with her achievements, i flipping would be!!!!!

How far is the drive to school? Sorry for the silly question, but for me, everything is measured in actual distance...!

I wish i could just get in the car. How is Marie doing it? Does she feel anxious at all while driving? Goodess, so many questions.

I apologise.
Have a good day :)


Marie said...

Hi Sarah. Marie here...

Forget apologising for the silly question - you should hear some of mine!!! Joseph's school is a little over half a mile. Takes about 5 mins to drive.. 15 mins to walk (but of course I can't walk it!). I never had any trouble getting into the car, but it used to be that I couldn't walk to it. Now that I'm ding it every day, it seems just like going into the kitchen. Sometimes I feel anxious while driving so I try to think about something else like what I'm going to do when I get home. Occasionally, I have to stop the car to get a drink and settle myself down.

If I worry about getting anxious when I'm driving, I can feel my anxiety level go up before I've even got into the car. So now I just go for it without thinking about what I'm going to do and this makes it easier. Does this make any sense?

I bought CDs so that I would have some feel good music to listen to. I actually look forward to listening to my music in the car and this makes things easier.

I don't mind how many questions you ask. I hope I can help.

Sarah♥ said...

Bless you Marie. Thank you for answering me.

I have the problem that my anxiety levels are sky high before i even get in the flipping car and then without fail i feel shit along the way (i am talking about getting to the shop which is just about 1/2 mile) and i am constantly thinking "How the hell am i going to be able to get home"...! I just checked Mapquest and it turns out that its 0.8 of a!

Whats your choice of music for taking your mind off "the feelings"??


Marie said...

Hi Sarah.

My fav CD at the moment is the soundtrack from "Coyote Ugly". Other times it's Bon Jovi.

I forgot to say that before I go out, I do myself up as much as possible. It's to make my self confidence as high as possible. It really makes a difference.