Joe has the developmental age of an 18-24 month old child and very limited speech, so he uses Makaton signing to communicate. He lives at home with his older brother Ben, younger brother Sam and their parents, Philip and Mandy.


"Speaking is actually quite difficult for him - he only speaks when he wants or doesn’t want. The other difficulty is his challenging behaviour, stubbornness and violence. Life was hellish before we got in touch with Action for Children – we didn’t have any real support, apart from Joe being statemented and having his transport to and from his school funded by the local authority. We were at our wits’ end. He had really very challenging behaviour."

Philip, Joe's Dad

At that time Joe started attending a short break service over a period of about six months, but his parents weren’t keen on the service. That’s when their social worker told them about Warren Park, run by Action for Children.

That was some five years ago and since then Joe has been staying at Warren Park for four nights every school term in order to give his parents and siblings a break.

“We hadn’t really appreciated how much the children were following him in his wake,” Philip says. “We really look forward to those four days so we can spent time with our other children and get things done. It’s great for the children because the house is quiet and we are not so exhausted, not running around. We can do things with the other children without having to worry about Joe. We always get the impression that Joe likes staying at Warren Park. We phone Warren Park every day he’s there and they’ll tell us what he’s done.”

Two years ago Joe’s condition took a turn for the worse. He has brain tumours, none of which are malignant, but doctors found four they couldn’t operate on. Joe was put on medication to stop the tumours from growing, but it’s difficult to administer and Philip says Warren Park were “superb” in making sure staff were trained in how to administer Joe’s specialist medicine so he could continue with his short break care.

"Life is still extremely difficult. It’s called ‘respite’ care and it is a real break for us when Joe is at Warren Park. If we lost it we would be very disappointed – it’s great."

Peter, Joe's dad

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