Two different sized bags are packed, both filled with clothing, balloons and A3 laminates as I wait for the taxi to take him to school. The balloons and pictures are in his school bag along with other things necessary to help maintain order during the day. In addition, he has a digital camera around his neck, hanging from a lanyard and huge headphones blasting sound from his MP3. These are not music recordings but his own creations, accompanied by the strains of him shouting and clicking. I laugh; even when he’s quiet, you get to hear the pre-recorded version.

An extra-large holdall containing clothing for the weekend also has his playstation and as many Thomas the Tank trains and track he can get away with taking. You see not only is he going to school, for the next few days, he will be in respite too. This is my chance for a break, the opportunity to relax and rebuild a bit of strength in order to start again next week in the ongoing battle to maintain the support he needs. Not many people do help either. He is 19-years-old now and built so big, most shy away.

Respite is good though; he enjoys it and I get a break. It’s been a while since a similar scheme under the children’s service. There he would have regular temper meltdowns and I would be called to come and collect him, rendering the respite useless. Now he is an adult in an adult respite home. Things have gone smooth so far and I have begun to relax. He’s in his eighth stay with no problems and it couldn’t be better. I wave him off to school, bags and all.

I go into town, eating out for breakfast then enjoy a lovely day with my partner. We plan to go out in the evening too, free of any thought of the hurdles involved in a carers life.

Five o’clock, I get the call. He went into the yard at the respite home, hoping to film a helicopter he could hear flying overhead. He did this and even though smiling, something in that instance triggered a temper meltdown, culminating in him attacking a member of staff.

They say everything is okay and will only call me again if there are further problems, but the damage is done. David is heavily autistic; he has serious behaviour issues and even though I do not have to collect him on this occasion, respite in my mind … is cancelled.

Living with David - Every day a new challenge.