Many of you reading this will know about our family situation. Those of you who aren’t on my livejournal friends list, or who I haven’t seen in person recently, may not know about the latest developments. Since things seem to be fairly certain now, this is a general public update on what has been happening and what will happen next.
Our daughter B has a very serious autistic learning disability. Having developed relatively normally for her first two years, she then lost the ability to talk, and many other facets of normal development, in the following six months. The reason we live way out here in the wilds of Flemish Brabant is that we found the best school for her to be Ter Bank near Leuven. Not only did B enjoy it, but when her little sister U turned out to have similar problems, she started attending the school as well, and still goes there.
Towards the end of last year, however, B’s behaviour had got too much for the school to cope with, and it clearly wasn’t doing her much good; so we moved her to another wonderful day-care centre, ‘t Prieeltje in Tienen, about a half hour’s drive east of here. She loved it there at first – indeed, you can see her on their web page at present, one of the pictures is of her clearly having a ball – but last June, just before her tenth birthday, she suddenly rebelled, by refusing to get into the car, which meant she could no longer be transported back and forth from here to there.
Since then she has been at home, and my heroic mother-in-law has been helping us out ever since, as B’s behaviour has been very difficult. To cut quite a long story short, we have been negotiating with the various potential care options; and they have now come up with a solution for us. On Monday, B will move to the St Oda institute in Overpelt, about an hour’s drive away from us; they specialise in monitoring and treating children with very serious behavioural problems, which is the category B clearly fits into. She will stay there for a few months, and will then transfer to the to a closer facility as her permanent (or at least long-term) home.
We know it already, as they had been on the horizon as a long-term care option for a while, and like the quality of the care that they offer, though again that leaves out significant chunks of the story. Indeed, B has already been there a couple of times, and they told us today that they can take her from tomorrow until Sunday for respite care. That means that tonight is the second last night she will be at home, and Sunday will be the last. We are relieved, but also sad.
You can never tell what is in the package. When B was born, we certainly never anticipated that she would leave our household a few months after her tenth birthday. Even until last year, I certainly thought we would probably have her with us until her early teens. But of course, there are other families who are less fortunate than us; whereas our daughter, F and U’s sister, will only be a few minutes’ drive away even after she has moved out, there are others who are separated from their children by eternity.
Here is B in our back garden. She has just in the last few months developed an interest in catching a ball if it is thrown to her, though she enjoys bouncing a ball on her own very much too.
And here she is one of her recent stays, in almost exactly the same pose; looking a bit doped up, I’m afraid, due to extra medication. But we think she will be happier there, and better looked after than we are able to manage.