I'd got used to having her Smiley face around the place, two months without any school or placement or respite meant that we did everything together. I enjoy her company, even as she wears me out. It's lovely to be needed and thanked and appreciated - I don't get that from a clean floor or a paid bill.
I'm thrilled about her new placement, but anxious too. We said goodbye to the comfortable cocoon of her school, where she knew everyone, and everyone knew her, and the days, weeks and years passed in a predictable routine. This is an opportunity and a fresh start, but she is so disabled by all her challenges, will she make the most of it?
How would she deal with going somewhere different?
She used to be afraid of going to a strange shopping centre.
She used to be anxious getting into a new car.
Not any longer. She's grown up to be a beautifully confident young woman. I was crossing everything that it would be the same for her new placement.
We visited a couple of times over the summer for appointments, but that's not the same as spending five days a week there, with a bunch of people you don't know. So with a week from acceptance letter to starting date, I needed a plan.
A New Bag
A New Image
The hairdresser visited (my son got his hair chopped too) and new clothes were bought.
A Clean Wheelchair
You know what they say about first impressions? Well I just happened to have a proper look at her chair and parts of it are covered in dust, but like most disability equipment, there are lots of parts, many of pretty inaccessible. No-one ever seems to design her stuff with a thought to the poor person who has to clean it...
Lots of Nappies
We're out of nappies and no more due from the Health Services for 3 weeks, I've been frantically buying adult nappies wherever I can. They come at a significant cost too - nearly €2 each!
A Social Story
I visited the centre with Smiley to help prepare her and to take pictures of her new bus bus driver, key worker and anything else that looked interesting. The story was wheeled out every few hours over the next few days. She seemed to enjoy it.
The Big Day
The big day dawned quiet and grey. My heart was in my mouth when I heard the knock on the side door and opened it to Smiley's new driver.
"Hang on a sec, " I said.
I got out the social story and showed her the picture of the bus driver, she looked from the picture to the driver. And she smiled.
When she arrived home again many hours later, she was still smiling. I think it was a successful start.
So I'll make this my reasons to be cheerful for this week x