Before we came home yesterday , we had one final swim and Joshua enjoyed the pool and wave machine, but after a while, he needed to sit at the side for a rest and to watch the other swimmers. While we were watching mostly pre- school children splashing about in the water, an older family caught my eye : there was a couple ,perhaps in their late sixties, with their autistic son in his late twenties. He was wearing a buoyancy aid, a waistcoat to support him in the water. They guided as they picked their way through the shallow water, while he held his hands over his ears against the loud , happy squeals of children.
Once he got to the deeper water, his hands fell away from his ears and his face lit up. He launched himself into the water and the hesitant walker was transformed into a free fish who could move effortlessly through the water. His parents no longer needed to hold onto him and the noise no longer disturbed him, as he was set free in the water. It was magical to watch and brought a tear to my eye.
I pondered that this scene could be us in 10-20 years! That we were heading for a lifetime as carers and that Joshua will require our guidance too, even when we are in our sixties. That at an age when most parents are enjoying grandchildren and are perhaps retired, the parents of disabled young adults may still be dressing, changing and feeding their offspring.
But that sobering thought, was soon replaced, when I saw the sheer joy on this lad’s face : how wonderful that he had that experience with his parents and that it brought him such pleasure. Just because our sons have disabilities, it does not mean that they cannot enjoy their lives by taking weekends away like both families did. It can sometimes feel like too much effort to go swimming, battling in the changing rooms,squeezing Joshua’s large boots and splints into tiny lockers and encountering the endless staring, but this weekend has proved that it is well worth that effort to bring such smiles to our boys’ faces!