Our 13 month old grandchild smiles when they see us, says 'who that?' to people they recognise and responds to their granddads voice on video calls, interacts, shows him things when asked, blows kisses and waves goodbye at the end of the call.
Our 32 year old child who is in care does none of that.
They rarely make eye contact, don't respond to our voices, are unable to follow any instruction and shows no interest even in their reflection in a mirror or on a screen.
Keeping in touch with them is almost impossible. For the past 9+ years we've been living abroad and although I write and send gifts, it is mainly for the benefit of the staff to show them we are still here and interested in our child's life.
However the response is sparse. The staff aren't permitted to whatsapp us with updates on how they are doing or send photos, so we make expensive phone calls to be told, 'yeah they're ok'
There are many other issues in regards to communication like not being informed of medical appointments, but that's for another today.
Prior to moving abroad we visited weekly, had monthly over night stays in our own home, took them shopping, out for lunch, long walks and visited other family members.
Since moving abroad we've still been able to do that when we've been in the UK for visits, although due to the levels of disability and as we get older, there have been no over night stays. Sadly apart from the youngest child who is now 21, no other family members visit or phone to see how they are and rely on updates from us when we're in the UK.
Covid has been a strange time for us in regards to seeing our oldest child, we just haven't been able to, despite me having been in the UK since March and only 20 miles away.
I did a door step drop off visit in June and thankfully they'd just got back from a drive so I was able to say hello from a distance outside. They have poor eye sight and I although we can't confirm if they recognise our voice or not as there is no physical reaction, no turn of the head, no smile.
My husband was over in August and by then, after 2 weeks isolation, we were allowed a garden visit. But no touching, so we couldn't do anything other than walk round the garden and we left after half an hour. We couldn't bounce on the trampoline, take their arm and go for a walk, give a cuddle, anything that might prompt a response.
I made another drop off in September and was told I was allowed in, that was an easier visit, but wearing gloves and a mask and not touching anything meant again I only stayed a few minutes and left.
The government advice is no indoor visits and to communicate via video and telephone calls wherever possible. As this isn't possible I was informed I could have another house visit yesterday before I return to Dubai next month until February.
I'm not comfortable with indoor visits as it exposes me to risk from the virus with the care staff and the other resident. I've explained to management it's not just about me protecting them, so I arranged to go for a walk and asked if a member of staff could accompany me. They could assist our adult child physically and we could spend more time together. However the 2nd member of staff called in sick, so they were wrapped up, sat in their wheelchair and wearing gloves and a mask I just pushed them around the local neighbourhood for 30 mins.
No interaction, no face to face time, no benefit to them as it was cold and they were stuck in their wheelchair.
But I've done my bit, taken photos to show the family they are ok, had a video call with my husband so he can see our child and my visit has been noted and recorded in official records, so future carers will know there is family around even if they can't visit often.