Bit late with this one but I just can’t seem to find the time these days. Life is keeping us very busy!
A few weeks ago, Hugo had an exciting school trip to Yorkshire Wildlife Park. Prior to diagnosis, Hugo had two school trips which can only be described as a bit of a disaster. His first ever trip when he was in nursery was to Skegness beach. He refused to walk for most of the day, he cried, he needed to be carried, he just didn’t cope well at all. Following that trip, I went him as a 1:1 for his second trip to Sherwood Pines. Equally a difficult day.This was at the time when his mobility was particularly bad and his Autism was starting to show. He kept stumbling, he couldn’t walk or keep up with his friends, he was scared of the trees (in a forest!), he couldnt climb up anything in the play area and I ended up carrying him for the majority of the day. So you can imagine my utter dread when I discovered his latest school trip would involve lots of walking!
However, this trip was different. The main difference being that we were prepared for Hugo’s needs. I decided he would definitely need his wheelchair this time. This was initially hard for me and I did contemplate not taking it. For me, using the wheelchair is confirmation that my son is different, it sets in stone that he is in fact disabled. Something I didnt think I was ready to admit. Something I deep down never want to accept. Hugo is still a normal little boy at school, his friends rarely notice the difference. I was worried that by taking his wheelchair, he would be noticed for being different and I hated the thought that I would be drawing attention to his additional needs. I really can’t begin to explain how tough these things are, I want to do everything I possibly can to make Hugo’s life easier for him, but at the same time I’m battling issues of my own acceptance towards his condition.
Looking back at the trip now, I am so grateful for his wheelchair! It made the biggest difference to his school trip. Hugo walked with his friends for the first 30 minutes of the day. He wanted to be with his friends and he was determined to stay on his feet. He knew his chair was there for him when he got tired. And he happily told me when he needed it! We fell behind at one point, and he was struggling to keep up with the group. He said ‘mummy my legs are tired, I want to sit in my chair’. He climbed in with the biggest smile on his face and cheered with joy when we were able to catch up with his friends. His school friends have never seen him in his wheelchair so I was worried what the reaction would be. I didn’t need to worry at all. They all thought Hugo was super cool in his magic wheels! One of his friends continued to hold his hand while he was sat in it! It really did melt my heart to see his friends looking after him. Hugo kept getting in and out of his chair whenever he felt the need to. He didn’t spend all day in it, but at the same time he wouldn’t have managed the day without it.
Hugo’s wheelchair empowered him that day. It gave him the ability to enjoy his day, without worrying about his tired legs. Strangely, it gave him independence. I mistakenly thought it would take his independence away but it did the complete opposite. It allowed Hugo to enjoy his day and be carefree. We had an amazing day together. To see him with such a beaming smile on his face all day instead of watching him battle with aches and pains gave me a much needed boost. His wheelchair hasn’t taken anything away from him at all, it’s given him the ability to enjoy his life.