How wonderful it would be if I could say to our son ‘I have to go out each day to complete Jury services for a couple of weeks’ … It seems simple enough and clear enough. Ok, understanding what happens when you are a member of a Jury may need some explaining, but the essence of being involved in something for a couple of weeks is, one would think, straightforward.
Sadly this is not the case – even as I write this article, I have to break off and rush to his aid as he collapses with yet another seizure – strangely, it’s not the seizures that are the main worry. Over thirty years, we have learned that they happen and what to do to ensure his safety until he recovers again. That can take minutes or days, depending on the seizure. The Autism is our biggest concern when changes happen such as being called for Jury service.
Our son needs, strict routine and consistency in all aspects of his life. It was said to us that when his maternal grandmother and grandfather passed away, this sent him into a depression that he will unlikely come out of, as he can’t process death and understanding of it is way beyond him. We continue to try to explain and have many books and specialists who are guiding us on how to explain it, but sadly our son’s learning disabilities prevent him from understanding comparisons, which most guides and advice use. To this end, we try and expose him to as much and a varied an experience as we can, so we can recall in picture form to try and enable understanding.
No matter how much we plan and prepare for this time when I am on Jury service, we know he won’t easily handle it. I will telephone as frequent as I can, I will be home each night (at least I hope so) and it will only be a two week period (again, I hope so) but he will slip into a very quiet and dark place as all he will see, is that I am leaving, just like his grandparents, just like his cousin who now lives abroad and it will take a while at the end of it to bring him round.
We did speak to the courts and my plea to be excused was disregarded as they say, my wife is here and we have other family members who can come in to support her. For me, this is another example of where people just don’t understand the effect on the mental wellbeing of others. I know the civic duty I am obliged to deliver (now the second time) but, I’ll get in, get it done and get out again and hopefully pick up the pieces at home quickly and smoothly.
To aid this, we have been creating various aspects and environments to help my wife and our son remain distracted from my absence, not least of all ‘Lady Bronte’ our Parson Terrier who has developed great affection for our son and our garden with its ever increasing wildlife to attract his attention. We have placed some pots on the decking outside the living room window where our son like to sit and the butterflies visit with great frequency and our son and Lady Bronte watch from the dry warmth of indoors as they flutter around.