March is the month of Jude’s birthday and for the past 11 years, we have not celebrated in any elaborate way.

This year, however, Jude wants a party. 

Now, this is pretty big for him. Typically, we have an afternoon tea with the grandparents and think little more of it because he isn’t able to cope with the change in routine. But for some reason he has had a change of heart this year. Therefore, we have arranged a messy play party at our home (crazy I know) which will hopefully be held in the garden as typically we have fairly decent weather for his birthday weekend (I’m fully aware that I’ve just jinxed myself entirely.)

Now comes the next problem…who to invite? Jude doesn’t have any friends as such and the children he is familiar with at school wouldn’t be able to attend as his school isn’t particularly close to home and they all live in different parts of the South East. It’s an optional residential school so not your typical county based distances between everyone. SO, I’ve chosen the children I think he knows the best and those I think are robust enough just to get on with playing and ignore Jude if he has a “moment.” There will be more adults than children (probably only about 12 of us in total!) but I think that suits him. Jude has always liked the company of adults more than children; I think he likes the predictability in his surroundings. Plus the noise levels!

Another issue unique to Jude - he doesn’t like cake. Shock horror! What we plan on doing is making a lovely cake to share with everyone but bake a giant cookie and put the candles in that, so he can blow them out in a more Jude-esque format. Jude would live on biscuits if he could so he’ll be thrilled to face this during a chorus of ‘Happy Birthday to you...’

Jude was invited to a party a couple of years ago and before we arrived, I was a nervous wreck. At the time he attended a local special needs primary school so the child’s parents invited everyone from the year plus family and a few extra friends. It was pretty busy. The event was held in a hall with lots of balloons, a table full of food (Jude heaven) and a huge enclosed disco bouncy castle. It was amazing! You couldn’t hear the music from the outside so those who couldn’t cope with that level of sound could avoid it all together. There was a face painter, arts and crafts plus a little side room for children to escape to if necessary. I took Jude’s younger sister along and hoped with all my might that he’d follow her lead and have a great time. Well, I could have cried. Jude had the time of his life and even allowed the lady to paint his face for him. He’s meant to be a dog by the way…

Birthdays and parties can be an incredibly emotive time for children with special needs! I guess it’s just about knowing your limits and doing things their way. I’m already nervous about Jude’s party in a couple of weeks so think of us on the 17th and pray he’s having a lovely time…and that the weather holds out.

Have you had many party successes?

Read more about Alice and Jude's adventures on her blog Living with a Jude