Our carers are so important to us.
Carers can make daily activities a little less challenging for us and they can really support our family days out and family experiences to be more enjoyable.
I have a teenager; he’s 15 years old with learning disabilities. He’s a great student at school, he’s apparently joyful, helpful and hardworking. I say apparently because at home he’s moody, he answers back, he’s rude and can be frustratingly disrespectful but we get it.
Recently my son was having a melt down at home whilst a good friend of mine was over having a coffee. My wonderful friend offers me a chocolate biscuit to dip into my almost cold coffee by this point as my son stomps upstairs, shouting his version of horrible and disrespectful words to me as well as telling me he no longer wants me as his mum.
“Teenagers.” My friend says. “Mines the same, it’s their hormones.”
But her teenage son isn’t the same as mine. Her teenager at 15 has his own phone, freedom, is able to take the train with his friends to Manchester, he checks in by phone when he should and comes home safety, on time and raves freely about their adventures in the big city. He’s growing up into a fine young man, planning college and what he’d like to study. He goes to the cinema, hangs out with his pals, goes to a football game and fills his diary with great social activities.
My son at the same age completely understands that there’s a world out there that he can’t access like some of his friends. My son can’t navigate transport on his own, make safe decisions or appropriate choices, work out what to do if he’s lost, deal with strangers, cross roads, locate the right food for lunch and a drink, hold a clear conversation and be understood and he can experiences great levels of anxiety without a capable adult there to translate this complex world for him.
Now remember back to when you were 15, did you want your parents around you 24/7? Wasn’t it PGL time (parents get lost). You wanted your time, your freedom. You wanted to fly the nest in a safe way, on that elastic band where you could go out, be all that and strut your independent stuff but come home at the end of the day for dinner and your warm bed with your clean clothes folded on the chair waiting for you to put them away.
My son like many of our children, friends or parents with disabilities, they want that too.
A carer can be such an anchor for us.
When we met the guy who became James’s carer and we watched how they gelled and James suddenly had someone in his life for a few hours a week that wasn’t his parents or his grandparents but his buddy, his friend who would let him have that independence. Where they could high five the goal James scored at the local football club his carer got him into. Where James could run around with a whole bunch of 20 something young men who have all become his big ‘bro’s’ and look out for him. Where he can be more like the other kids around him because for James, they would see him out with his pal just like they were doing.
His pal who takes him to the Man City stadium because James really wanted to go, who hangs out with him, chats about guy stuff and takes him for rides around in his car. The guy who’s cool and let’s him have a bit more freedom when they’re out doing activities, having experiences and enjoying attractions.
That person who on paper is a carer but in our lives is the person – or team – who can transform our children’s life experiences, open there worlds that little bit more and feel much more free without the constant parental guidance.
Days out with carers are so important, there’s a dynamic that is essential for our children’s growth and allows us the learning of stepping back even if it’s just for a few hours.
When you see a carer supporting their client on a day out, or if you welcome them into your visitor attraction, know that carers can mean so much to our children or family members and because of that they mean so much to us. They are an important person within our family unit and we can cherish them, carers who help us navigate a day out experience are worth their weight in gold and for all those visitor attractions who recognise their importance, thank you.
For more information on carers see Carers Trust