Is this what I will have to do next?
Two months have passed and very little has happened. Still no premises, still no place for Smiley once school ends in June.
I am networking with other parents in a similar situation and we are sharing information and issuing stories through social media. One of the national papers is interested in writing a feature on the situation facing young school leavers, but no parent seems interested in being interviewed. That includes me. But maybe I need to consider it.
The idea of begging is just awful. I've always been independent, hated my short stint on means tested benefits, hate the idea of asking for help. But this is my daughter. She has no voice. She cannot lobby. She cannot protest. She is TOTALLY dependent on others to fight her corner. And mostly she's dependent on me. And I know that some of you are sick of hearing this: but I CANNOT provide everything that she needs to live a full life. She needs some kind of a service, as a change from being with me all the time. But do I really have to beg for this? In one of the richest countries in the world?
It looks that way.
Worse, begging reinforces the idea that my daughter is a burden on society, with her needs to be paid for by "hard-working" families, but only after "essential" services are funded, obviously. I can't even go to court, because adults with disabilities and special needs have no legal right to services.
What can I say? It's unbelievable. It's a desperate decision. I know that I put our lives on here, but appearing in the national press feels different, especially as they'll probably wants names and photos.
Now that I'm considering it, I can totally understand why other families would be reluctant.
And how do I protect my other children? How I ensure that details of their lives - and my son's autism - do not become public too? Let alone the details of my marriage breakdown.
It's one thing to post on here where I have some control, and quite another to give my story to a journalist without knowing what angle they will use. I have been both a PR and a journalist and I know the value of a good story.
I once burned my typing fingers on an Irish Parenting site called Magic Mum when I was campaigning for child benefit, and got reactions like this.
I haven't the emotional strength to deal with feedback like that anymore.
It will be a balancing act. Getting a story in the national papers does not guarantee services for my daughter, but it does mean that our story is out there with names and details for ever more, and I'm not sure that I am willing to pay that price.
And what does it say about our society when people feel that laying out their lives for public scrutiny and begging for help, is the only way of securing it?