We met today after a bit of a gap, ill health, busy schedules and the weather have all conspired to keep the circle apart. Even today, at the last minute, illness kept one of the circle members away but we were able to get enough of us together for what was planned to be, and was, a bit of a sort out.
Today was about taking stock. Henry’s week has changed so much since he first left school. He no longer attends college and instead spends every week day doing something he loves. He is now volunteering with the gardeners and park rangers at two different National Trust properties three and a half days a week. He spends a morning having a drum lesson and another day at an outward bound centre doing more voluntary work. Henry is really happy being outdoors and working alongside other volunteers with the support of his personal assistants. Henry goes to bed early on a Sunday ready for ‘work’ in the morning; he is a valued member of the teams he works in. Over Christmas, he went to four different celebrations with his colleagues. Above all, Henry is happy. We have come so far from the first meeting where we wondered what life beyond school would be like for Henry.
So, in this meeting, we had a think about what is working well for Henry and what is important to him now – the people, the things, the places, the activities that make life good. We also talked about the future. For me, like every other parent of a child with a learning disability, that is very scary territory, especially in a time of cuts to public services and welfare.
So yesterday the circle became the Jedi Council – and I can tell you that the force is strong in every one of us! And we need to be strong, what Henry needs to stay happy and to be part of his community and, eventually, live independently of us, will be difficult to achieve, and we will have to build it with him and for him. We want to strengthen the connections Henry has to his wider community and that is our task over the next months and years.
Written by Henry’s mum