With Christmas done and dusted, we had to get down to preparing ourselves for the February hearing. After a brief respite of relief, the council's position statements started to file in and the anxiety cranked up again. Basically, they weren't changing their position at all - entrenched in their belief that the bst place for Steven was hundreds of miles away.
The two court experts came to visit, Steven did his lookalike thing with them. One he said looked like Charlie Slater from Eastenders; the other looked like Neil Tennant. I was almost sick with nerves before each visit. So much hinged on their independent reports.
I needn't have worried. Once again, here were two men who couldn't have been more different from the Hillingdon posse. What was clear from the start was that they were both interested in Steven and they both knew how to tune into him. He made them laugh. They didn't just fire a series of questions at him - they engaged in a conversation with him.
Where did it all go so wrong with social care? In the space of two months, we'd had Cilla, Chris the Giant, Amanda, Sophy, Aswene, Justice Mostyn and now the two experts - all of them full of humanity and just knowing how to do it. I'm not just saying that because we got the outcome we wanted but the contrast was so stark. The humanity and respect and dignity was coming from the legal world, whilst the social care world showed nothing but coldness, defensiveness and downright vindictiveness. There was never any sense throughout the whole year that they saw Steven (or me) as a human being with all the gifts and fallibility that define us.
The experts' reports came in and they both recommended that living at home was firmly in Steven's best interests. These reports weren't at all like the Hillingdon best interest assessments. They were proper, considered arguments running to many many pages. Giving Steven the respect of their time and professionalism that the situation warranted.