Chelsea and Luke – TACT Foster Carers since 2019
Our foster daughter P moved in with us shortly before the Coronavirus lockdown. P is deaf and Luke and I didn’t know any British Sign Language (BSL) before she arrived, so it has been a steep, but rewarding, learning curve for all of us.
So far lockdown has been spent trying to ensure we spend as much time as we can learning and using BSL for P, so she does not feel even more isolated than she already must do. Obviously, we are trying to do courses, but that is difficult to do whilst also home schooling P and continually entertaining our 19 month old daughter.
At first we tried to set a routine by having a timetable for P to do home schooling, but found because of her specific needs this didn’t work for us, and it was making her more anxious when she was feeling like she was struggling with the school work. So now we try and encourage her to do as much as is possible. If she’s had enough of home work we ask her to read or we do crafts/cooking etc and utilise the skills she has and enjoys, to make learning life skills more valuable and fun for her.
P is in a mainstream school with a very good deaf resource base and is keeping in regular touch with her during lockdown through Skype. Her deaf teacher has paid her a home visit – practicing social distancing of course, and over all the school is really engaged in her BSL ability and providing us with any help we need in terms of interpreting or breaking down information for P to understand in strong BSL.
P is finding it difficult not having interpreters available for her to speak to her social worker about the things that are happening in her life at the moment, including her relationship with her family and obviously how she gets on with me and Luke etc, and this can be frustrating. Meanwhile P has been having contact with her family via FaceTime which has been positive.
We’re encouraging exercise and for her to speak to her friends via face time as much as possible. There is quite a lot of support and ideas online for what you can do with children of primary school ages but not so much of things to do with teens and even more so with P being deaf. We’re doing our best to be positive in these times and are keeping in touch with our own families via face time for extra support, we are a very close family so for us not seeing them is very difficult.
There have been some positives out of being in lockdown. It has definitely sped up the learning process for Luke and I in terms of BSL – which we have now developed a real passion for, and we have found the communication between us is getting stronger. We are also forming a much closer bond with P, and each day she is sharing more with us about her feelings. She’s also learning a lot of valuable life skills like cooking, which she really enjoys.
Overall, I think the main thing for foster carers is to remain as positive as we can and to support each other in the times we need that support. It is good to have routines in place as much as you can, for example, bedtimes/breakfast/lunch/dinners/bath times are important to keep some normality and just trying to make light of a situation that we are all in together.