Tissues Finished Now

My boy and I had an appointment this afternoon. Yes, on a Sunday.

We went to visit Autism Queensland’s Respite home – Birralee.

It’s taken quite a while for us to get to this point. Lots of paperwork and referrals and form filling, but when I got a call during the week to say that we could take this first step and go to have a look – I was pretty excited!

From the outside it looks like a regular suburban house, but I was was very happy with all the various security measures they had in place. L had a great time exploring the house and found a couple of things that sparked his interest – tissues and a sliding door. While we were there, he would have said ‘don’t touch tissues’ or ’tissues finished now’ about 50 times (every couple of minutes!). He does like to completely unpack a box of tissues, one by one into a nice little fluffy white mountain. So I generally keep them out of his reach, but there were a couple of boxes in easy access – woooooooo! However, he was very self disciplined and managed just to TALK about them, not to touch them. I was pretty impressed by that.

He’s always been a bit of a door guy. From very early on he was interested in doors and how they opened and shut. One of the very first comprehensible things he ever said was ‘shutthedoor’ (a three word phrase, mashed into one sing-songy word). He doesn’t like an open door. It’s as though it’s untidy or unfinished, and he is compelled to close them. Then open them. Then close them…etc. So he really enjoyed doing that with the sliding door – something we don’t have at home.

He also sat down and had a lovely cup of tea and ate a muffin. So, I would say that it was a pretty darned successful introduction. Next step won’t be for another two months when he’ll get to stay there (without me) for a day. Once you are ‘on the list’ they match him with other kids on the list, so that there is a complimentary group. There’s only ever four kids at the most and two staff members. Then he/we will be offered a respite weekend once a quater. I’m notorious for my optimism, but this is looking pretty good to me. I’m excited!

tissues are finished!

tissues are finished!

 yes I know…this is two photo’s. Stop complaining!!

On the wall at Birralee

On the wall at Birralee

Coming Up For Air

Yes…it’s been a bit quiet around here, but not IRL.

Real life got kinda busy on me and so here I am a few weeks later. I’m just back from a week of training and conferencing. I am a carer representative in my area and support and advocate for other carers when they need assistance. Each year, the carer reps have a couple of very intense days of training where we get up to date with new legislation, new policy and practice for the child protection professionals and a range of various other issues and topics. This is followed by our annual state foster care conference. A marathon of information intake, networking and eating (oh no!).

For me to head off I firstly needed to organise three different care arrangements for my kids – one each! Followed by three more different arrangements for the weekend. Hmmmm! I was so grateful and happy that each child was able to go to people they knew – families who form a part of my network of support. There’s nothing I hate more than having to send my littles ones off to complete strangers – that just doesn’t work for me and it sure doesn’t work for them.

For L who has autism, his routine was kept right on track by having my dear old mum come over and stay with him here in my home. He was then to go and stay with his bio grandparents for the weekend, but they came down with an evil flu which has been raging and ravaging wherever it lands. So he ended up coming out with me for the conference, as did little J (14m now!). Lucky they had some child care arrangements and they had some space for us. It was certainly a learning experience for the lovely Pyjama Angels who volunteered to look after the kids during the conference.

Staying in a hotel with a bub whose dearest wish is to run as fast as he can and to climb onto everything climb-able and a 5yo with autism – is not my idea of a break, but we did manage to have some fun and I did manage to attend a few conference sessions, so…we made it! We had lots of help from some of my fellow foster carers too.

On the Saturday night they held a dinner which is usually a lot of fun. Part of the night is dedicated to acknowledging some of the amazing carers who have reached significant milestones. One very special couple were there as they had just ticked over 50 years of fostering. Unbelievable! They started in 1962 and are still at it today. They were both beaming as they received a standing ovation for this incredible achievement and were very proud to point out their very first foster daughter who had travelled a long way to be there to help them celebrate.

I had no option but to bring the kids down for the dinner, knowing that we’d only be there for a little while, hoping that L would be able to manage the experience. He ran around the room a lot, but I had a few pals on kid wrangling duty so he didn’t get into too much trouble. We did manage to settle down at the table for a while where he poured some lemonade from one glass to another for about 25mins. While this was happening he was also checking that he’d get to go to bed soon. ‘BED SOON?’ – the kid has NO volume control! ‘BED SOON MUM?’ Yes, darling. Bed soon. It echoed around the room, many, many times over and over again. I got lots of bemused looks, but all very accepting and supportive.

I had volunteered to get up and speak about being a carer rep, as we are trying to recruit more carers into the role and having a captive audience was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up. As soon as I had done my bit and made my way back to the table, I said to L – ‘OK, bed now’, thinking he’d be happy to head off to bed after making hundreds of requests for it. He looked at me, paused and said ‘NO’. Oh boy!!! We did head off and he managed to get to sleep, as did the baby and as did I. Meanwhile, the rest of the gang were kicking their heels up and having a good (kid-free) time.

Foster carers on the loose!
photo credit: Kryn Taconis

 

We are back home, I’m slowly working my way through the mountain of washing and getting everyone back into their routines, catching up on missed sleep and….on my poor neglected blog.

 

Dear Campbell Newman, Premier of Queensland

Australia is at a pivotal moment in developing a National Disability Insurance Scheme which would ensure that all people with disabilities would have an equal standing regardless of how their disability was acquired, among many other benefits. The Federal Government is seeking support from all of the Australia states in order to commence the initial phase of the scheme.

Where I live in Brisbane, our very new, very conservative Premier is in slash and burn mode and is playing a political game by holding out on contributing, saying we are virtually bankrupt.

I am just so frustrated and angry about this. All I can do is write. See below for the latest news.

Dear Premier Newman,

I’ll be dropping off my 5yo foster child to your office later today, just for a visit. You clearly need some real life experience when it comes to disability. He is after all, a ‘child in care’, so bottom line he is YOUR responsibility and will be for many years to come.

Now, don’t cheat and get your relatives – whoops, I mean advisors in to help. Just take the time to enjoy his company. He does scream a lot but don’t worry, he enjoys it. You’ll have that in common. He’s not interested in toys but he does enjoy ripping paper. He can help you get rid of all those annoying appeals to your humanity and leadership potential when it comes to disability. Do not turn your back on him or let him out of your sight. He’s also what is called a ‘runner’. If he didn’t have a couple of formally diagnosed disabilities, he’d be called an absconder. Thank goodness we’ve got those labels sorted!

Oh, don’t forget to take him to the toilet. Despite talking about the toilet relentlessly, he will not warn you that he needs to go, kind of like the mixed messages you give. You will have a big mess to clean up and not even your advisors will volunteer to help you out with that job. Don’t get angry if you get mess all though your carpet, on your seating, walls and all over you. Just remind him calmly that we do this in the toilet. It’s dirty work, but you’re excelling in that department. You’ll manage.

If you need to do something: cut a few more public service jobs, sob to the media about how poor we are, then just get on and do it. You get used to being scratched, pinched and pushed. Just be thankful he only bites himself and not you.

Whatever you do, don’t let him get distressed. You won’t be able to do a thing if he has a meltdown. George Street will grind to a halt and start judging you on your parenting skills.

If you need a break, just call your mate Ms Davis over at the Department of Communities, see if you can organise some respite. I dare you! If you can get anyone to answer a phone, they will tell you that there’s not one single placement available in the Brisbane region.

Plenty of kids are waiting in line as soon as one becomes available. There’s babies being born every day who come under your responsibility. Kids in desperate need, just waiting for someone to put their hand up and volunteer to love them and care for them while their families can’t or won’t.

You might get a respite offer from another region. You are a pretty important person after all. If you do, would you mind driving 2+ hours or so to drop him off, then go get him again afterwards? You’ll need to use your own personal car for that. If you’d like to get reimbursed for the fuel, there’s a form that you submit, that goes into a black hole. You might hear back sometime next year but you probably will have axed those kind of supports by then, so I wouldn’t bother.

That’s about it. You’ll be right! He’s only five and it’s not like he’s in a wheelchair or anything. I’ll miss him, but I’m trusting you to do the right thing and look after him. I’ve got to get myself off to the rally protesting your pathetic and callous disregard for the people with disabilities in Queensland.

Latest News: Great news – NDIS launches looking positive for NSW, VIC, SA, ACT, TAS. “My Way” in WA. QUEENSLANDERS – hit your keyboards and tell Qld State MPs what you think about your state government’s priorities.

http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/members/current/list/