It was Dylan’s review today. His social worker described it as his ‘last review’ in that she will no longer be involved after today; Dylan has reached the end of his journey from school to adulthood. Happily, the meeting went well: everyone was agreed that his residential placement is appropriate and that Dylan seems happy there and to have settled well.
Dylan didn’t attend the meeting but I did talk to him about it last weekend when I saw him. I tried to explain, very simply, that his social worker would be visiting today and would want to talk to me and to the care home manager. I chatted to Dylan about this in the car (where many of our ‘conversations’ happen) as I drove him back to the home on Sunday, and I was sure I saw a flicker of understanding in his eyes as he lifted them to meet mine in the rear view mirror. ‘The important thing’, I told Dylan at the weekend, ‘is that you are happy.’
When I arrived at the home this afternoon Dylan was working in the poly tunnel with the man who runs the social enterprise shop where the residents work. From the upstairs meeting room window I watched Dylan carry something, slowly and calmly, from the tunnel to the shop. This young man was so familiar to me – his gait, the way he held his arm – and yet there was something strange to me too. It wasn’t Dylan’s appearance: he was wearing the green cords I bought him in the sales last year and a t-shirt he’d picked out on holiday in Brittany a couple of summers ago. The strangeness, I realised, was in this other world he inhabited, independent of me. ‘What’s Dylan doing?’ I asked the home manager.
Apparently the social enterprise manager would like to involve Dylan (who has a special interest in saws) in a woodwork project. This was one of several positive things mentioned at Dylan’s review today. The progress Dylan has made since he moved to the home in July is wonderful. Given the anxiety and distress Dylan was experiencing at the time, however, the change in him is nothing short of amazing. Reviewing Dylan’s placement today, I felt grateful and very lucky.
Dylan’s social worker has been involved in his life for long enough to have grown familiar and to feel almost like a friend. I was glad to see her today and for her to hear the happy end to this stage of Dylan’s story. There have been plenty of times, in the last few years, that I’ve clashed with or challenged her (not personally, but in relation to systems and procedures) but what matters at the end of the day is what she has achieved for Dylan. Parents are dependent on such support for the flourishing and happiness of their children.
After the meeting Dylan and I went to Pizza Hut for our regular Wednesday evening meal. I must have caught him at a contemplative moment in this photograph; he could be thinking about garlic bread or, perhaps, his trip to York tomorrow about which he is very excited. I didn’t talk about the review meeting over dinner – Dylan was more preoccupied with Thomas the Tank Engine and Pinocchio – but as we drove back to the care home afterwards we had one of our chats. I explained what we had talked about at the meeting and why the social worker had wanted to see his room. ‘And so’, I said to Dylan, ‘everyone is very happy for you to stay if that is what you would like and it feels OK to you’ ‘OK’ Dylan replied.