When we went away for a few days at Sense Scotland’s caravan in Roseneath I was not sure how things would go. Andy had been at respite prior to our break and had been refusing to get out of the car on trips to previously enjoyed places. Since he left for respite we have had to move out of our home into temporary accommodation to allow essential adaptations to be carried out. We had been planning and preparing Andy for 18 months but were still not feeling any confidence about how Andy might handle all this disruption and change. It struck me we had absolutely no right to be optimistic as we were pushing my son beyond what was achievable based on how he currently is. We had no choice however having decided to attempt to pursue a home environment that could meet his needs and that of our family. My duty of care to Andy demands that I ensure stressors in his life are manageable for him. I am cautious and realistic about new challenges. It tends to be the individuals who are not picking up the pieces that suggest throwing caution to the wind I find!
On the drive to the caravan I watched in the mirror as it dawned on Andy that we were not headed home but with Jen beside him he handled this situation. When we arrived at the caravan Jen and I were not surprised when he steadfastly refused to get out of the car.
We had plenty to get on with however and so began unpacking the car and exploring the caravan. We took some snacks and a drink out to Andy and kept a close watch on him. He calmed from the initial upset and was clearly adjusting at his own pace. Helen and David had dumped their bags, claimed a berth and were now keen to go and explore the park. This allowed Andy a bit of space to continue his transition. We opened the caravan doors and sat within his view having a cup of tea. Gradually Andy began moving and after an hour or so got out the car and cautiously approached the van. He ran up and down the ramp and progressed to sticking his head in the door before retreating. Another hour of this finally saw him comfortable enough to enter and begin exploring. Andy tends to behave in a predictable fashion in these situations. He first of all establishes an escape route by demanding the door is not shut over and then he tends to find a safe area where he returns to after forages around his new environment. The other characteristic of his behaviour at this point is a search for water sources like the kitchen sink and bath or shower. With Jen and I watching but not intervening Andy became gradually accustomed to the caravan. He ‘ set up camp’ on the bench at the kitchen table, that fortunately converted to a bed. From here he got his quilt and removed most of his clothing – all good signs that he was staying a while at least!