It's taken me two weeks to write this. Honestly I have been incredibly busy working in my Parents Forum/Sportism capacity, spending time trying to make sense of the SEN Code of Practice Children and Families Bill and organising a children's Xmas party. Though the thought of writing this particular blog would mean I would have to face the stomach churning fear I have for my son's future again. The realisation that no amount of prior preparation and planning, reassurance and creating a shed load of life rules can prevent the overwhelming urge he gets to do some downright stupid, unpredictable, damaging, dangerous, illegal (Oh yes you heard me correctly and I will say it again), ILLEGAL things. This is Invisible Vulnerability at its best and I have had the corker of all corkers. Find me a hill top because I really want to scream!!!
It's difficult to explain to most people about the invisible vulnerability of children on the spectrum, and in particular for those children on the higher end who outwardly look like ordinary children in ordinary houses on an ordinary street anywhere in the world! I will try to explain about our 'Bob' and his latest all mighty 'this is the best one yet' stunt!!!
Two weeks ago I got the most unpleasant surprise I have had for a while. The sheer shock made me feel incredibly sick and for a split second lost the ability to make sound judgement or rationale. The Postman usually arrives around 10.30am, we don't get a lot of mail because everything is usually fired off electronically these days so it's quite a novelty to get some. The usual 'Occupier' 'Homeowner' mail on the doormat along with a letter from Tesco Banking. Now normally I would throw something like this in the paper bin because it's usually junk. Thank goodness I didn't!!! There before me was a letter asking me for more information for my credit card application. WHAT credit card application???? I'm a stay at home mum/carer, what the.... You can imagine it can't you I'm pacing the kitchen, reading this letter again just to make sure I've got it correctly. I am so mad and the who, what, where, when is going through my head. Instant reaction and I'm on the phone dialling the 0845 number, cursing that one too because it will cost me a fortune!
Blooming annoying! I get through to a Customer Service Operator, take a deep breath and go through the story. I'm put on hold, waiting to be put through to the Fraud Department. No joy there, nobody is answering so I leave a message. I'm told someone will get back to me the same day. So I wait. Nothing. I try again before going for our 'Bob' but by this time I've had several cups of tea and thought about it. I remember two weeks earlier having one of those dismissive conversations with 'Bob' about the Sainsburys credit card which gives you Nectar points. 'Bob' was doing a good job putting his case forward for Mr Autynary and myself to get one, which obviously we swiftly declined. I didn't think any more of it, that was until that day.
'BOB'! What had he done now? Wait till I get him in the car! I'm thinking all this on the drive to school, and for one shocking moment I can't remember how I drove a quarter of a mile down the road because I'm head chunnering. Amongst a sea of mauve I see 'Bob' making his way to the car, now I know I have to be careful because one slight whiff he's been rumbled I will not get any ownership from him at all. So there I am diplomatically interrogating 'Bob'.
"Is there anything you need to tell me about Tesco Banking?"
"Noooo" "What you talking about?" a rather shifty answer and a rather puce looking teenager.
And with slight exaggeration
"I have spoken to the Fraud Department of Tesco Banking about an online application for a credit card which I have no idea about or who's applied in my name, do know anything about it?"
"Well it wasn't me!" quick sheepish answer!
"Well the thing is they have the computer IP address and if I haven't applied for one they are going to pursue the person who the address belongs too, so if I was you I would tell me what you have been filling in on the Tesco's website because they are calling me back?"
So I then get an embellished story about how he thought he was registering on the Tesco's Direct website, and that he knows not to sign up for things in my name, etc, etc, blah, blah. And quite frankly that's what it sounded like to me. I knew he had done it so my mind was now shifted in trying to resolve the issue, and I had better check with a credit reference agency to double check that I'd not had my identity cloned or that the little tinker hadn't signed me for HP on a 737 aircraft!
You can imagine, can't you? I ask him again if he has done anything I need to be aware of and the answer came back reassuringly "No!" So why then was I surprised to go through a similar situation on the following Monday morning with an OPENED Tesco Banking Savers Account in my name and in a separate envelope a 'Thank you for arranging a direct debit into your new Savers Account' letter.
By this time I'm furious! Then I had to stop. The wave of emotion slowly makes its way up through my body and I find I am staring out of the window in tears. I know deep down that a mist of Autism and a wave of ADHD have created a difficult situation, a dangerous situation, a vulnerable situation..... VULNERABLE. I want to scream and scream and scream. I have to phone up Tesco's Customer Service yet again with a story which sounds like I've made it up, tricky decisions to make about having my details be put on a credit fraud list so if it happens again I have a little red flag over my name. Hoping that they don't want to prosecute for fraud, or any other law he's broken in the process. OMG! I would have to tell Mr Autynary, well that would go down in history as the worse thing possible and it would be ALL my fault. Never mind 'Stop the World!' I just want to disappear into the ether and I don't want to come out.
I manage to compose myself when I pick 'Bob' up from school and I am quite frank with him. By this point he really does know the games up and has to admit to everything. I don't get an apology, lots of explanation as to how it happened and another reassurance it won't happen again! Somehow I don't think this will be the case and with all the will in the world and lots of hoping, I don't think 'Bob' can make that promise either, which is so, so, so sad. I don't think I can ever get complacent or allow myself the time off from pre-epting those predictable or unpredictable events which are yet to bestow their troubles on our doorstep!