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Whilst we were away on our summer holiday we finally received the phone call that we'd been anxiously waiting for. The social care team had approved the funding for Luke to attend St. John's.

Luke and Nick raise a glass

Here we are on Luke's 20th birthday raising a glass. 

So now what? In 3 weeks time Luke will be heading off to Brighton and his room here will be empty. I know that I'm walking around with a big knot in my stomach and keep pretending that I'm not. As I've said many times before, we knew that this needed to happen, that Luke needs to live away from us in order to develop as an independent being. To make his own decisions, to be his own person. Yet you still find yourself running through all the things that could happen - from the mundane to the catastrophic. These scenarios form an unconcious, unspoken background to our lives at the moment.

Mundane - our welcome letter mentions a budget to spend on magazines, treats (including crisps and sweets) and trips out. It's not as though we've made a concious decision not to have crisps or sweets but it's not a part of our family routine. So now what happens? Are they going to be heading off to the sweet shop on a daily basis? Is he going to pile on weight? Why is it that the Macdonald's logo features on the activities board in the residential house that I visited?

In my other work I've seen an adult with learning disabilities eating a packet of biscuits in one go on the basis that if they took half a packet home their mum would be mad at them. Diabetes and weight related problems, lack of exercise - all these factors are real risks as our children become independent. The necessary health education is in place but does it follow through in reality? I realise that we haven't even spoken to the college about any of this but these are some of the thoughts that are here, keeping us company.

Catstrophic - aren't necessary realistic worries, I think they just appear to keep you on your toes. Make sure you never get complacent.

AT THE SAME TIME - this is such an amazing opportunity for Luke. The chance to become the man he wants to be. To shape his future. To do things that aren't led by us. 

He has said he wants to take a photo to remind him of us. Which is encouraging.

I guess we will all be changed by this new stage in our lives. At the moment though we've got a lot to sort out to get Luke (and us) ready.

Nick Radclyffe writing about Life at EalingHELP on 19 August 2016

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