The school bus driver

Respite and permanent carer Con shares his story:

Myself and my wife Anne are joint carers and have looked after children for around seven years. Our own children are grown up and have left home. We look after three autistic boys aged 16, 15 and 11. We care for two through regular respite and the other lives permanently with us.

I was a school bus driver and made a connection with an autistic boy whose mother enquired about me befriending him through the Council. I started as a befriender, then share the carer and then I moved onto specialist disability foster care.

None of the boys we care for speak and two have epilepsy too so it’s certainly a challenge. The worst thing is not knowing what’s wrong when they’re upset – they could be physically sore or something out of routine could have unsettled them, but it’s the small things that make it worthwhile – a smile or a look let you know you’re getting through to them and making a difference. And they encourage us to learn as a family too. We’re learning sign-along just now to help us communicate with the boys and even the grandchildren are joining in. Every minute of every day is special with a child with disabilities. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.