Special needs siblings

As you know, Jude has two siblings. Sisters, Elsa (11) and Emmeline (4). I love to watch their relationships develop and am constantly analysing how the girls feel about life with Jude.


Jude and his sister Elsa on a trampoline

It’s totally normal for them to have an older brother who lies on the floor and flicks paper in the air for amusement, (while laughing hysterically) and I think that’s so amazing. Elsa is the most protective of Jude. Like any sibling, she berates him at every opportunity she can. But if anyone steps too close to him emotionally then she won’t hold back. I will always remember a woman in our local supermarket who stared at Jude as he was flapping his arms in excitement when he saw the lift door opening. Her look of bemusement was classic.

“Why is that woman staring at Jude like that?” Elsa said a little too loudly to even pretend she was talking to me. The look of ice certainly told our audience where to go.


Another time. The worst day I’ve ever experienced with Jude during one of the worst episodes of our life, Elsa stepped in when a group of teenagers laughed at Jude. She was only about 7 at the time but I didn’t know whether to hold Elsa back from going for them, or run after Emmeline who had taken the opportunity to leg it from the buggy. Jude was having a melt down in the middle of a pavement (within a large park) so I knew he at least wasn’t going anywhere. Oh for three arms sometimes!

Elsa was so upset about the laughing and I think it was the first time she was really bothered by the negative attention Jude sometimes (but not very often) attracts.



Anyway, so Jude can always live safe in the knowledge that Elsa will be his immediate defender.

Then there’s Emmeline. She adores Jude like no other. She finds him hilarious. Laughs at the same things and enjoys the same games as her much older brother. Their current favourite “game” is to sit on Jude’s bed and throw handfuls of Lego in the air and watch it crash back down around them. Apparently it’s the best thing ever. Who knew?!

Emmeline is still very young and I think when she realises that Jude is more vulnerable than most, she will become like Elsa in her view of him. Elsa has been raised as the oldest sibling. The one who should be responsible. Emmeline will always be the baby so perhaps there is that slight difference.


Little Miss “Get What She Wants”

Emmeline does something that Elsa doesn’t though. And I’m not going to lie, it’s hilarious.

Since toddlerhood, Emmeline has known how to get Jude to do what she wants. At the age of 18 months she learnt how to lure Jude away from his lunch plate so she could sneak over and steal his crisps. I couldn’t quite believe my eyes when she first did it. She’d walk over to his beloved car on the other side of the room and hover a hand over it, a little too close for Jude’s liking. Jude would then shriek at her and run over to stop her touching his car. In the meantime, Emmeline would hot foot it in the opposite direction and thieve a few more crisps. Repeat.

Emmeline has developed her art of manipulation and during this lockdown period has mastered a few more tricks. For example. We wanted to go for a walk at the weekend. Jude wouldn’t come downstairs despite claiming he wanted to come with us. Ten, fifteen, twenty minutes passed before Emmeline huffed in frustration and claimed loudly “My God, this is getting so boring! Jude if you don’t come down here now I’m going to come up and touch your Lego.”

Cue lots of yelling, thudding and panicking coming from upstairs.

But it worked! A few moments later…there was Jude, thumping his way down the stairs ready for our walk.


It’s amazing to see them all grow up together. Elsa will be the first to be embarrassed by her atypical family, I’m sure. She already feels embarrassed quite a lot of the time.

I love that they are growing up with a slightly different normal. It makes the world a more interesting place and I’m pretty sure everyone needs a beaming smile and husky laughter like Jude’s in their lives.

Leave a Reply