And still we wait, and more importantly, still Lucy waits to find out what will become of her. Whether the “evil empire” of the local authority will deign to step down from its clearly unsupported and unsupportable position on her needs, and finally give Lucy the news she wants to hear. The news that she will be allowed to go to Pearson’s College and fill in all the dots in her mapped out future with three years at a place that will take her to the next level. I am no longer able to tell Lucy anything about what might happen. Neither is Amy. We can only, as Lucy, wait and watch the days tick by. Soon we will know what faces us in the next month. Either it will be the good news we want to hear: that the authority has seen there is a wealth of evidence against their decision to abandon Lucy to the uncertainties and danger of an unstructured set of courses and a totally undefined “supported living with a PA” suggestion. That they accept that sending Lucy to Pearson’s would be not only the best thing for her, but also what everyone has been saying and recommending in her LDA, and in fact what Lucy herself has said many times are her wishes. Either that, or the authority will be stubborn and stupid, and torture Lucy by fighting this in the courts. Thus leaving Lucy to suffer probably another month or more of uncertainty and stress, and, who knows, perhaps jeopardizing her chance of a place at Pearson’s at all.
Unfortunately, our local authority has a history of being stubborn and stupid when it comes to things like this. After all, we had to take them to tribunal to get Lucy into her current school in the first place. I say current school, but last week Lucy left that school for good. I was thinking when driving in to work how joyful we were when we had won our case back then, and we drove Lucy to the school for the first time. As we entered their grounds, drove through the wonderful scenery up the drive to the main building, and saw that old manor house proudly staunch and beautiful, telling us that everything would be alright now for Lucy. She would be well taken care of and our lives would all improve. She would have four years of proper professional support now, settle down, make some friends, and be helped through this thing called autism, that none of us really knew much about.
Well, here we stand, four years later, with Lucy all grown up and certainly having made some huge progress since being at Marston Hill School. But now all alone again, without any confirmed prospect for Lucy’s future. Are we doing the right thing, holding off on any certainty for Lucy because we want to fight for her and get her what she really needs? Should we let her take what the authority is offering, and hope that she can cope, gradually getting used to the supported living, maybe getting some menial job in a supermarket (no way she could fulfill her dream in a horse stables with what is on the table), remaining socially inept and nervous and scared? Or should we fight, and help her get into an environment that will enable her to recognize her own needs, work to deal with them, gain confidence in herself and some pride in what she can actually do, work with horses and get a qualification that will enable her to work some place where she will be happy and fulfilled? After three years there she would be in a much better position to consider the scary step of living alone in a supported living environment. After all, any “normal” teenager going off to university say at that age would have big worries about living away from parents. Surely it is not too much to ask that Lucy, with her social and comprehension issues, should have a few years getting herself ready for this step?
So we wait. There is a deadline set by our solicitor for the authority to consider the additional evidence we have provided (at cost, of course) in the form of an education psychologist’s report and an independent social worker’s report. Both are totally supportive of sending Lucy to Pearson’s and of her needs as reflected in the LDA and as Pearson’s recognizes and can support. They are also critical of the local authority’s proposal, of how unfitting it is, and how damaging that would be to Lucy, not least the risk it would raise regarding Lucy’s well being and what she might do when forced to comply with this. The deadline to respond is today. If they come back and still contest our points we will definitely be going to judicial review. I don’t want us to have to go that far, but we will. We cannot stop now. Lucy is too important to all of us.