Jude is funny when it comes to friendships. There are certain people he’s drawn to like a magnet and others he is happy to just exist beside, rarely even acknowledging their actions. When he started school, there was one little girl he befriended and they would spend every lunch time together wandering around the playground (I would love to have heard their chat), occasionally sitting in the playhouse and singing songs together. I remember his teacher showing me the most adorable photo of the two of them in their wet weather gear, clapping along to a song inside the Wendy House, oblivious to the world around them. They were on the same bus each morning and afternoon and it became widely known at school how great a pairing they were for work and activity situations because of this mutual affection.

Jude doesn’t seem to have the same emotional attachment as other children since leaving the school - he hasn’t mentioned her once. And as sad as it appears to the outside world, maintaining that friendship really isn’t easy as we live so far from this girl and her family. Jude hasn't forgotten about her and I know we’ll catch up some time but I also know that her family struggle in the same way that we do with behaviours, social situations and just functioning at any normal level. Therefore a play date would be a really big deal. It will happen though. I think Jude wants a party for his next birthday so we’ll invite her to that and see how it goes.

It’s funny because largely Jude doesn’t seem that bothered about not having friends but when someone shows an interest in him, he beams like the Cheshire cat. He talks about them, asks when he’ll next see them and mentions them randomly in conversation, wondering what they are up to at that exact moment. At his current school they are fantastic at encouraging social interactions so hopefully he will start making plenty of friends that will last through adulthood. He’s not unhappy though and has always preferred the company of adults; he’ll contentedly spend his day just chatting to us, or his support workers if he’s at school, unphased by the ever-increasing social circles his sisters move within. I’m not sure if his adult preference is because they are more predictable and less flighty. Jude can’t cope with extremes in emotions so I guess children may make him feel wary at times. 

Jude doesn’t really know how to approach people and this is where he lacks confidence and therefore the ability to socialise. I’m hoping this skill will develop as he gets older but naturally as he struggles with communication, it’s not easy for him. At his current school, one boy walked up to him on Jude’s first day and confidently introduced himself and from then on, they are more often than not in each other’s company. It’s also fantastic for the staff as this friendships allows them to encourage Jude to participate in activities; by stating that his friend is doing so, Jude is a more willing participant so this friendship is a great confidence booster for him. I hope it leads to lots of happiness as he creeps nearer his teenage years…

What do I hope for Jude in the future in terms of friendships?

I would love for him to be more socially outgoing, try to understand the world a little better and open his eyes to everything around him. He has really severe learning disabilities so I know he sees things differently. But hopefully through consistent interactions with the fantastic children at his school who have similar thinking patterns, he will find a connection somewhere that will open up some mutual benefits all round.

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