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Last Thursday and Friday we were lucky enough to have a really special visitor.

We have had monthly telephone consultations with Carolina since august 2008, just before we were about to start our full-time programme in the September. I remember Warwick saying ‘what are you going to ask her?’ on our first consultation as we had been running a part-time programme since February 2011 in his bedroom but the playroom wasn’t quite finished and we hadn’t started with any volunteers yet. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to ask , I was daunted and overwhelmed and pretty scared by the decision we had made and the undertaking and responsibility we had taken on. Immediately though, and just like she continued to do in every other consultation since, Carolina was able to sort through my scrambled thoughts and help us to help henry the best way we can and always with her beautiful and loving touch. (Warwicks quite sane compared to me so most of the time he had to sit patiently whole Carolina helped me through whatever I was having trouble with that month!)

Carolina has been there for us through the acceptance of Henrys autism, she’s been with us through the hours of dropping and helping us to truly accept and respect his ism and the beauty of joining wholeheartedly and without any judgements, she has been there for us through the hitting, biting, throwing, screaming (at times i could only describe being with Henry like being with a caged animal which of course Carolina was able to help me with), she has helped us develop his language from pointing and screaming to where we are now, she has been there through the extreme ridigity that Henry has shown and the controlling behaviour that meant we had to be as ‘user-friendly’ as possible, she has helped us to think differently so that we can allow Henry to be successful.  This outreach though she had to help me with something different.

Her visit in person was no different to our consultations and this time Carolina picked her way through my 1400 goals!!!!  There’s alot to do!!!!  As ever, she had an uncanny ability to get to the main issues and immediately recognised by panic to get everything done by the time he is ready to go to school, which now feels so real.  As Carolina poignantly pointed out, he isn’t fragile like he used to be.  He is robust, and clever and able, and now there are some things I have to leave to see what happens.  I have to trust that he is capable and when issues do come up  then I can help him with them.  I can’t prepare him for every eventuality.  This was kind of a very radical thought for me!

When I took Henry to nursery it absolutely blew me away – to be see him so socially competent was beyond everything I could have hoped for.  I obviously thought he was ready as I wouldn’t have put him in that position, but I did approach that day with trepidation.  Luckily on this ocassion, unlike many others, my attitude didn’t rub off on him, in fact the other way round!  I felt like a magician had come along and whipped away the tablecloth but everything else had remained exactly the same on top.  It still feels so strange.  Something absolutely staggering had happened yet it felt so natural and life seemed to be the same yet I knew that something amazing had happened and to me that meant I had to rush everything now.  I honestly think Henry was more ready than me! Carolina helped me to see that we didn’t need to steam ahead and that we actually just needed to carry on and do exactly what we had been doing before that had got us this far, well actually, with just a few less goals!  

The team meeting went really well and we talked alot about how change working on lots of goals at one time to be being more efficient and working on just the one in more detail so that we give Henry time to practise his new skills over and over again. We’ve all got carried away by his ability and with me being the worst for it, its no wonder the team were doing the same thing! 

Carolina asked us all to write down what we wanted Henry to do before he is able to go to school and then she cleverly stuck them on a poster board with a photo of Henry on so that we could see visually how all our concerns and hopes and needs for him were actually making us forget the most important piece – HENRY himself!  This has really stayed with me and I will really try not to lose him again amidst my overzealous checklist!

To finally meet Carolina, after knowing her for over 2 years and feeling so close to her, was to say the least surreal!  It was so lovely to be in the same company as her and we all loved her even more when she left than we did when she arrived.  She was so lovely to the girls, and Maddy was particularly smitten!  Carolina played golf and went on the trampoline with them all and they didn’t want to get off to go to Nanny’s (which, believe me, is a compliment, most times they’d drop anything to go to nanny and gramps’s!) We were lucky enough to have extra time with her too and we were very sad that she had to leave, and like lots and lots of other people I’m sure, wish she lived a bit closer.

It was a really special time and we are so grateful for her help but most of all her friendship.

Now I’m off to try and whittle my goals down to just one for our playroom game, wish me luck!  ‘Cause now I know that I have to start letting my little boy go a little in order for him to grow even more, have fun in the big wide world Henry…. and I’ll have fun watching you.  Thank you Carolina. x

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