We first came into contact with Archway when our son Adam was 8 years old. He had been diagnosed the summer before with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
Our Story of Archway
This diagnosis on top of Down Syndrome and Autism was quite a bit for our family to cope with, and having two other children at home as well we found that there was never enough time to meet anyone’s needs well. Archway was going to be a lifeline, though I didn’t know it at first!
I remember the first meeting we had with someone from Archway, to talk about Adam’s needs and how he would fit into the house on Westburn road for his short stays. It seemed hard to imagine that they would cope with him, considering all of Adam’s needs and issues.
It was even harder to imagine letting him go away for
a night at all, as we had never done anything like this before! He first went for a couple of hours, and seemed to enjoy the time with his new friends, and then we decided to try a one night stay.
The first night Adam was away I think I spent most of it worrying and fearing that something would happen, but the only thing that happened was that he had a great time!
It took a long time to overcome the feeling
of guilt that parents know—particularly parents of children with special needs—when they think about something like respite. I didn’t know how I could “put my son away” for any length of time as I felt it was my responsibility to look after him. I also thought that he would be sad, but it turned out that he loved and still loves his time at respite, as it gives him a special place to go with his friends, the same as any other child would have who doesn’t have Adam’s special needs.
"Archway is a lifeline. It’s such a gift to have a safe place where Adam can be while I get what I need to continue on with the challenges of daily life. We are so grateful for the continued connection we have that has helped our whole family through some really difficult times, and can never say “thank you” enough!"
That feeling of guilt soon changed when I realised that for once I could plan time with my other two children. They love their brother, but there are so many times when their needs had to come second, or when we couldn’t do what they wanted to do because Adam wouldn’t cope.
After Adam was properly settled at Archway I soon saw that instead of worrying about him I could ask my other children what they wanted to do, knowing I could say yes! I also began to see respite for what it is: the gift of time to rest and gather my energy so that I would be renewed to look after Adam again to the best of my ability when he came back.
We’ve had some times when Adam has been at Archway and fell ill, or they had a question about something he was doing. At these times there was always a clear line of communication, which really reassured me that he is in very capable hands when he’s at respite.
And as time has gone on and the staff know Adam better, there is less and less to worry about. The only issue now is that Adam often prefers to stay awake all night, as there is so much fun to be had! But even then, there is always someone to stay with him and it’s never seen as a problem, which is so comforting.
I can trust when Adam is at Archway that he is well cared for, has lots of attention and gets time with his friends without his parents that means so much to his overall development. He comes into the house on Westburn Road, takes off his shoes and socks and signs for “Mr Tumble” straightaway.
He has often signed “goodbye” to me before I’m ready to leave! He does things like go swimming, bowling, on walks and to the cinema, and loves every minute.