Choices, Offers and Decisions (Adult Disability Services Part 7)

"My daughter the student" has a nice ring to it, I think. And guess what? It's kinda true. Smiley's education has been extended for a further two years. All the hard work has been worth it. But the battle is not yet over, as many other school leavers will have no service in September.

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 hereherehere, herehere and here.


  1. Oh wow that is wonderful news. Congratulations to Smiley. xxx

  2. Brilliant news, congrats to Smiley, I hope she enjoys her two years x

  3. It's great that you've found a service which can look after Smiley well, which she enjoys and which can look after her personal care needs. You'd not think that could be so difficult, but it's the experience of pretty much everyone I know who needs care or whose children do.

    I came across a lady who's been in UK adolescent mental health units for the past year, first in a secure unit then in a more open one (not bad ones, compared to some I've heard about). She's just been released and has been really lucky in finding a home that has good support workers that have time for her. After reading what Mark Neary has written about bad care homes masquerading as supported living, it was quite surprising (sadly) that she has been so fortunate in finding a good fit so quickly.

    I hope this college keeps up the good work for Smiley.

    1. Delighted for that young woman in the UK, and it's always good to hear the good news stories too.

  4. Such a wonderful news. I'm so happy for both of you!

  5. Wonderful news, congrats to both of you!

  6. This post has made my day. I am so happy for all of you. xxxxx

  7. This makes me SO happy! For you and very much for Smiley. Sure how could she fail to pass - iykwim -an interview!! They're lucky to have her.
    I think you put all the 'choices' very succinctly and it shows the gaps.
    best of luck for next was hard work but YOU did it! xxxx

  8. Brilliant news. Especially that Smiley clearly enjoyed herself and that the staff are enthusiastic. Congratulations to both of you.

  9. Brilliant, brilliant news, delighted for you and Smiley :)
    Nicola xx

  10. Fantastic news! Good luck Smiley :)