The school that I went to was not only a specialist, but it was also residential. There were alot of students that would stay over during the week. This was never a thing for me until my final year being there.
There would be three major reasons why the kids would stay over. One, some kids lived quite far as this school was in the middle of nowhere. I guess it was was easier for some to do this. Two, some of the kids had behavior issues to the point where tough decisions would have been made for them to give them the space from the home. Three, it gave students a chance to try out living away from home comforts. In my case it was the third reason. I was in my final year and it was decided that I was to try this out before I would do this full time at my next school. I’m not going to lie, I was really hesitant about do this, but I knew this was something that I needed to do as I was so desperate to move on to the next step. My last two years being there I just had enough and I think the staff could sense this. So I guess they tried to make it as easy as possible for me. See for me, I was used to a certain pattern at home and the idea of sharing that with people at school really scared me. I need space and I can only get that at home. Yet, my overall experience wasn’t too bad. I stayed twice a week which was ok, I think if were a whole week I wouldn’t have agreed to it. See in that environment, it is rare that people let you have a chance to prove that you can be an adult. You mess up once and they have this picture of you where they can’t trust you. I can understand how frustrating that can be and it can effect you for the rest of your life. With me, because of my empathy I didn’t want to be seen as a burden. They took a chance on my by involving me in some of their activities that they would set up for the kids and I did always enjoy being part of that.
The school was pretty massive and has two sections. You have the main school and then there’s sixth form section behind. I ended up staying in the same building that I was getting my education from. I mean, that’s kinda hard to go from school mode to home mode in the same area. Most of my friends went home and I would be with people that I wouldn’t associate myself with. I had a couple of friends so I would socialize with them unless I was tasked with something. I think if I didn’t have any friends to hang with then maybe I would have struggled. I will say though the evening staff that did the shift were actually alot nicer then the day staff. Well, they were nice to me anyway. You first go to your room to place your bags and set up your bed sheets. Thank goodness I had my own room. I know some people had to share which is my worst nightmare. You go downstairs where you got a timetable of how the evenings gonna go until you went to bed. With my eating issues, if there was something for dinner I didn’t like, they let me make my own tea as long as I sat with everyone else. Although some nights they took us out for pub grub to which I rather preferred. The only thing that I did feel uncomftable about was how the nighttime worked. From nine o’clock onwards, you’re sent straight to our rooms to go to sleep. The overnight staff comes and checks that we’re in a rooms asleep, every hour. Usually I like to stay up a little bit longer then most, mainly because I like to watch I’m a Celeb which is was on weekdays, knowing that I would get told off for staying up. I did have a telly in my room, which I imagine would have been taken away if they had figured it out. I had to be sneaky you see. So I kept the volume down and when it came round to ten, I turned it off like three minutes before, get myself positioned like I was sleeping waiting for the staff member to open up my door to check up. As soon as they went I turned the telly back on, worked every time. I did always enjoy waking up to the sound of a fellow student that would knock on everyone’s bedroom doors and say ‘good morning’ as we’re waking up. Cute!
Do I recommend living in a residential setup? It really depends on your situation and what is agreed from yourself and your providers. Nothing has changed in terms how I lived my life in terms having that backup just in case. Now that I’m an adult, they take the instructions from me which has been so different compared to what I did have to put up with in school and at college. It was certainly an experience that I am grateful for, I always say I wouldn’t have the mindset that I have if I didn’t.
Just be you, Sarah x