I have two younger brothers. Warren lives in Newcastle with his family and my youngest brother Jason lives in Wales. This weekend is Jason's 43rd Birthday, he was coming to visit. Nothing special in that, families get together all over the country for birthdays and celebrations.
Jason lives in a care village, he is severally autistic. I find the word autism has lost its true meaning in recent years, it has been so over used to explain away many forms of behaviour. Jason IS autistic, he cannot talk, he communicates through a series of noises and gestures. He has to have a strict routine, he hates change of any kind, he is obsessive about his belongings and fixates on a couple of his possessions. He is prone to fits of temper. In the past these have been controlled with very strong drugs. So much so that I was often shocked when he visited or we visited him. He was often "zombie like" but we were told it was the only way to keep him calm and happy.
Why am I telling you this ?
Imagine this situation ....... You have a child who was born with a condition, but to the outside world he was a beautiful, blonde haired, blue eyed boy. People looked at him where ever you went and laughed at the noises he made and the hand gestures, the shaking of his arms and head. The fits of temper, throwing himself on the floor. Onlookers commenting "that child needs a good smack" " that child is a retard" " that child is mad, get him away from my children" or just the silent looks of fear .
As he grew in age and size it became harder and harder for you to control him. He smashed up his room, your home, he hurt his siblings. You were a single mother struggling alone, no help, no family support. One day he has an incident at his "special school" he hurts another child. He is taken away and locked in an adult ward of a mental hospital. He is a child . You fight the system, you get him out, home safe and all is well for a while. Then one day you are out in your car with him, he leans across and grabs the steering wheel , you swerve off the road into a bush, the car is written off. When you get home he throws the tv through the window.
It's time, the authorities tell you, your family tells you, your friends tell you. You cannot manage alone anymore. He needs special care and attention.
Your heart breaks, you feel you have failed, you hand him over to the care authorities.....
You live everyday with guilt as a mother even when those around you tell you its for the best, he's in a good place. He lives in a care village in Wales. They understand about his needs. Others there with similar conditions. He gets hobbies, they take him horse riding, delivering newspapers, little jobs, glimpses of a "normal life". Life ticks along, you visit, he visits you. Always with two burly care workers to "take care of him" incidents are rare now. You get used to your blonde haired, blue eyed baby who has now grown into a man living away from you. You have the chance of some kind of life for yourself, the guilt sits there on your shoulder every minute of every day.
This weekend Jason was coming to visit me for his birthday, my mother and step father are in New Zealand, They always have him to stay for his birthday but this year they had the amazing opportunity to go to the Rugby World Cup. They left a few weeks ago and I promised I would take care of Jason and not to worry, go and enjoy it, all will be fine.
Jason had an incident, we are not sure of the facts but he ended up in hospital and is still there today. My mother is beside herself in New Zealand and wants to come home. I've tried to reassure her that I would take care of Jason and all will be well.
The guilt is back to mock you ......