Emma’s Fostering Blog
We went to Cornwall over the Easter break; because of Dan’s needs we always do a risk assessment as he is emotionally young for his age so we are aware of risk and the need to be extra vigilant.
But sometimes no matter how much you try to protect them, things do happen and it’s about young people learning from their experiences, and its better they do this in a safe way while you are able to guide them.
I was packing up the car to head home, two older men came out of a house, they said ‘Morning’ so I replied the same, but one of the men stated ‘where’s my Dan’ I was quite shocked. It turned out while we were taking the cases out of the car and into the property when we arrived somehow he had been approached by the men who asked his name, age and where he was from, and Dan innocently had told them everything they wanted to know.
This shows how vulnerable and trusting Dan is and we had further conversations about stranger danger, not giving out any information about himself or by being too trusting of his peers. This is ongoing when you are a foster carer many children are too trusting and so easy to fall victim to people that want to cause them harm.
Children who have problems communicating might have limited ability to learn about safety and danger. Dan is very impulsive and fails to think about the results of his actions so we use role play to help him and show what he should do if he is at risk and we practice over and over again, hoping that eventually this will sink in.
I do worry all the time because I’m not sure how much Dan understands, at the moment he is still very protected but there will be occasions when he won’t be with me, he has communication issues so he may not be able to tell me if anything happened as he doesn’t really understand what abuse is or what acts are abusive.
Physically he looks like any other 16 year old he is a big lad and mature, when you get to know him its very clear that emotionally he is much younger, having a hidden disability can create issues, especially as emotionally he is younger this reflects in his play and the younger friends he has. Dan is achieving and catching up but he still needs all the support, boundaries and routine he has in place. Most importantly he needs us to keep him safe and he will need this for some time to come.
My thoughts are many children and young people live with hidden disabilities – conditions which don’t have physical signs but are painful, exhausting and isolating. Sympathy and understanding from others can often be in short supply and especially from other parents.
Emma – A Blogging Foster Carer – I Love What I Do!