I went to visit Jude on my own yesterday after he had finished school. When I arrived, I found him in his room, sitting on his bed playing with lego on his window ledge.
And whilst I still feel completely positive about the decisions we made and the future for Jude on the whole, he looked such a sad, vulnerable image within his huge empty room. The support staff have taken his photos off the shelf, his toys have been locked in the wardrobe and there was nothing there except his bed, the chest of drawers and a rolled up rug. But whilst I felt terribly sad that Jude had nothing but some lego, I understand why they have done this. Jude has had a few melt downs recently and when these occur, he’s a potential danger to himself and the staff around him. They have called me each time to say he’s kicked out at someone, hurled the entire contents of his room down the stairs or used anything he can get his hands on to missile in someone’s direction. He does still play with his toys but they are put away again when he’s finished. He realises why they do this but it just looks so sorrowful as deep down he doesn’t mean to hurt anyone.
We sat together on his bed and I read him his favourite story, Mog. We played I Spy, went out into the garden where he bounced energetically on the trampoline and then we spoke to his support staff for a little while. Jude couldn’t find Mr. Giraffe so we endeavoured to locate him and return him to his rightful place of on Jude’s pillow alongside Monkey the bear. Sadly, we couldn’t find him but his Support Worker said she would continue helping him to search once I left.
Emotionally, it wasn’t the visit I was hoping for. In my (optimistically) elaborate mind, Jude is hanging out in a house with friends, watching tv and eating pizza like most eleven year old boys who are at residential school. Unfortunately this isn’t the case; Jude has misplaced his two favourite jumpers, lost his giraffe, isn’t allowed pictures on his walls and still enjoys stories that are targeted at toddlers. He’s different and this was incredibly clear to see. I had a huge lump in my throat throughout the stay and the reality hit me as to how hard Jude finds life.
I guess sometimes when you take a step back you can see what’s really going on in someone’s life.
I spoke to my mum recently about it all and reflected on how clear it is to now see Jude for who he is; he isn’t here 24/7 and we aren’t having to cope with the difficult bits so I’m able to hone in on where I can be best place to help him.
He is so so vulnerable. He can’t look after himself in anyway whatsoever; he’s basically a toddler in a near teenage body. A boy who doesn’t understand any but the simplest of instructions, who can’t tie up his shoes or even know when it’s safe to cross the road. I feel so sad that he can’t live at home because I know he misses it in some ways but in other ways he can’t deal with the pace of family life, the noises, the occasional unfamiliarities and the sudden changes in plan. We also can’t cope with his developing needs and as he gets older this is only going to become enhanced.
He’s in a fantastic home now with people who care for him but I think visiting on my own yesterday really hit hard and all those emotions that I haven’t yet had a chance to appraise swamped my entire body for the duration of our time together.
I hugged him a lot, probably more than I’ve ever hugged him.
Then we made a wee video for you all 🙂 x