Visiting Jude for the first time

This morning I felt so anxious.

Anxious because I was excited, nervous and trying to remember everything I wanted to take with me for our journey up to Jude’s school. I had some more clothes for him, spare bedsheets plus a card and flowers to say thank you to all his wonderful team in House Two. My gratitude to them is unending and I can’t believe how they have made this first nine days so utterly seamless it it’s execution.


It has been a relatively smooth introduction for Jude. He has warmed to everyone in his house and taken to the rules and routines pretty well. Naturally, he has had a few “moments” but the wonderful Support Workers have such fantastic patience and will sit with Jude for hours on end until he feels ready to tidy up the mess he’s created and move on. Their caring demeanour is evident in everything they do and they tolerate my daily phone calls requesting information on how is day has been; they chat confidently about what he has been up to, freely adding anecdotes and examples as if they are talking to a longstanding friend.


On Jude’s first weekend (last Saturday) House Two went on a trip to the zoo which he absolutely loved. Throughout the week Jude spends his time, once school finishes, either bouncing on the trampoline, playing on his iPad (they are limiting this as he easily becomes obsessed) or chatting to his support staff. Last Sunday, taking into consideration Jude’s love of food, he was allowed to help devise the forthcoming weeks dinner menu for him and his house mates!


Each week day, the children return to their house to eat lunch together. However, this is creating a midway transition in the day which Jude is struggling with and for the last five days, there has been a huge reluctance on his part to return to school at 1pm. The staff are resilient and are attempting different ways of overcoming this, some proving successful and others not so much. The latest, and most hilarious, is to allow Jude to drive over to class on his little scooter car thing which he then parks (in a parking space made by his teacher) in the class room. Can you imagine?! Yet no-one laughs, they just see it as a way of helping him overcome his anxiety and an action that obviously fits like a piece of the jigsaw that is Jude’s fascination with movement. Jude is now in a place where his quirks are accepted as just part of him and the community as a whole is so supportive and warm that he feels at ease.


Waiting in the school cafe whilst someone opened the ball pond room!


I felt a bit weird when we met up with Jude.¬†I knew he might be a bit anxious about his two worlds colliding but thankfully he was pretty cool. It’s only been nine days since I last saw him, we’ve talked every day (apart from one where he didn’t want to talk) but I have felt the shift in his life and today didn’t quite know what to do. I know I can’t behave like his main carer during term times so I very much want to take their lead. They know his mood, how his nights sleep was and if he’s eaten well that week. I don’t begrudge this at all. I’m proud that Jude has found a place that makes him feel so complete and I feel proud that I’m still a very active part of this existence.


We weren’t allowed to go into his house as there is a rule of no young children. It’s a place of sanctuary and refuge for the pupils so we need to respect that many of them struggle with unfamiliar faces, particularly those of two year old girls who are incredibly unpredictable!

Nevertheless, the three of them had a fantastic time jumping in the ball pond together and the girls displayed that relaxed behaviour that children always manage despite the situation. Jude was a little nervous which is typical for him but smiley and I think he had fun.


The girls play in the ball pond whilst we wait for Jude to arrive



Who is at the door?



However, our meeting was only short lived as Emmeline (being Emmeline) fell over and really hurt her arm. I was stuck in this antipodean situation of 1) do we assume Emmeline will be ok and stay for the duration of our visit, we had a picnic ready and had only been here twenty five minutes OR 2) do I take Emmeline to hospital and forfeit seeing Jude.


I chose option two despite the fact conversation with Jude had only been fleeting as he was having such fun with his sisters and I hadn’t had enough chances to hug him! ¬†Emmeline cried a lot from the fall which upset Jude who also then cried but we managed to talk him out of his concern. Emmeline never cries and couldn’t move her arm so we really had no choice but to depart prematurely. I was so sad but Jude was fine. Jude doesn’t really have that emotional longing that most people do. He loves people, loves their company but doesn’t have the pang of homesickness that I know Elsa would, for example. It’s like he’s missing that element to his being which in many ways is a blessing. He was pretty keen to get back to his house anyway so it was no problem for him at all. He had seen his sisters and was now content with moving back into his newfound world unaccompanied by us.


So I’m sorry I can’t update you an awful lot by way of video. It was lovely to see Jude and meet his fantastic Support Worker with whom I have spoken to so many times over the phone. I will be returning on Monday to see Jude after school so will have a longer chat with him about stuff when we’re in his room. I’ll get lots of pictures for you all (he loves a selfie) and hopefully we’ll get to see his awesome smile.


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