Well, isn’t it typical, you wait forever for a new blog post, and then two arrive at once… One of them is a dull, boring, important one, and the other is what I really want to write, but I feel I need to explain a few things, so we’ll deal with the dull, boring important one first…
I’ve wanted to come here with good news about a new school for The Boy for a few weeks now, but each time when I think I can say something there’s been a new level of bureaucracy in the way. The past seven months have been a life on hold – a never-ending wait for calls to be returned or emails to be answered. If there’s been one lesson learnt from it all, it’s that when dealing with local authorities there’s a direct correlation between the number of people you cc on an email and the speed of the response it produces. We were allocated a Senior Case Officer to deal with The Boy’s schooling – by the end of the process I was cc-ing the manager of the manager of the manager of the senior case officer. I wish that was a joke - the only thing that stopped me going another level higher was the position was vacant.
However, for all my moans, it seems it might have been worth it. I don’t want to get too excited, but after months of new reports, assessments and badgering emails, things finally appear to be moving in the right direction. To cut a long story short, a school feel they are the right match for The Boy… but they have no current vacancies – they’re oversubscribed, as all the decent placements appear to be. They’ve offered a brilliant package of support, and above all else, they have accepted him unconditionally – no “we have some concerns”, no “let’s go for an extended trial period”, just a very big “we’re confident we’re the right place for him”. I don’t know how long it will be for a place to become available, it could be months into the new school year, but I’m a strong believer that good things are worth waiting for. I’m nervous and I’m wary, but I’m also quietly optimistic, and that’s better than life has been for a while.
As for the other murky news in our lives, given the investigations that are ongoing there’s still not much I can say, and there is unlikely to be for some time. Following another appalling event that happened at the school recently, I can’t see how things can continue for them much longer, but that relies on having faith in the authorities doing what they say they’ll do. I can’t pretend what happened to The Boy, and his treatment at the hands of people I trusted, doesn’t still play on my mind every waking minute. It very much does. However, I’ve become used to the notion of relativity in this world - the idea that there will always be someone worse off than you, or doing better than you. And that’s never truer than in the world of disability. Follow any autism group or individual on twitter or facebook and you will discover social media is awash with horrific stories of people with learning disabilities incarcerated hundreds of miles away from home, or even dying as a result of shoddy care. And so I find myself in a strange situation where I’m counting my blessings, that the mistreatment The Boy has gone through is all that has happened to him. Is that really as good as it gets? Sadly, at the moment, in 2015, it would appear to be.
It’s fair to say the events of the last seven months have thrown our lives into the air a bit, and as a result some of my plans too. I’ve had some emails from people asking about the book, and when it will be published. I’m really sorry for the delay - it just hasn’t felt right, releasing something so personal to the world when life for The Boy has been so uncertain. By its very nature, ours was always going to be an unfinished story, but I needed to know that things would improve for him and that life would get better before I made any decision on that front. My publisher has been brilliantly kind, patient and understanding, and things are moving forward again. As soon as I know a definite date, I will be sure to let you know. Thank you for your patience – I hope it might just be worth it.
As for the blog, I can’t make any promises, but for now we’re back, so let’s see how it evolves. As The Boy gets older, I still continue to struggle with how much of our lives to share. But I will say that I think I question things too much. Writing the blog, and looking for the positive in situations where it isn’t always obvious has been an incredible life lesson for both of us. I need to remind myself that we are both infinitely stronger and enriched as a result of sharing the good times, and every now and then, the not so good times. And that can’t be a bad thing.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a second blog post to write, and it’s much better than this one…
This blog is about bringing up The Boy. He's 12 years old and autistic. It's written by The Dad. It's my words, my view. Other people will think differently and have different opinions. Good.