So how did she get to this point? Well I had five choices for my daughter, which is not quite as good as it sounds, and they looked like this:
1. Her current service provider.
The last conversation I had with her current service provider confirmed that there was funding for my daughter, but still no premises available, and absolutely no information on what an adult service would look like or when it would be provided.
2. An extra year in school.
It is possible for young adults to stay on for an extra year in special school, but parents face a battle to achieve it, since it means that the Department of Education has to fund your child for an additional 12 months instead of passing on the responsibility to the Department of Health, as would normally happen.
3. Self-Directed Living.
This seems to be the fashionable new option that everyone is talking about, but not many people know what is actually involved! Basically it seems that the young person together with their family designs (with help) their adult lives using the funding allocated for them. Most examples that I've seen involve the young adult living in the community, perhaps in a flat share, perhaps alone, but with a lot of support and a structured life based in the local area. More here. My daughter seems happiest when surrounded by lots of people, so I'm not sure how this option would work for her, but I'm convinced that it could be amazing for some.
4. Stay at home.
Despite how much I love her and enjoy her company, this would not work for either of us and would not give her the life she deserves. She needs a service.
5. A new service.
This is not an option in many parts of the country, but in Dublin there are alternatives. But information about them is hard to find, even on the internet. And it was by chance that I heard about a two year course for school leavers with disabilities and special needs and I applied even though I expected that they would reject Smiley as being too disabled. She went for an interview, followed by a two day sampling session. I left in tears the first morning, not because I was afraid to leave her, but because I was afraid it wouldn't work out. She came home happy and she never hides her feelings, so I knew it must be good. The staff had no problems with her toileting needs and were enthusiastic about the possibilities for helping her to improve her communication skills and compensate for her disabilities. I began to hope.
Then I got the letter this morning.
She's been offered a place, and she starts next week.
I couldn't be happier for her. For now she is sorted.
You can find the remainder of this series here, here, here, here, here and here.