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Tuesday, 20 August, 2002, 19:55 GMT 20:55 UK
Cash to find autistic son a playmate
Bob the Builder toys
Jack loves to play with Bob the Builder toys
The mother of a four-year-old autistic boy who wants a friend for her son is offering to pay children a fiver to play with him.

Jack Rumsey, of Thurnby, Leicester, is autistic and cannot speak, which has made it difficult for him to socialise.

His mother, Emma Upfold, 25, has put an advert in a newsagent's window appealing for a playmate for her son, but so far has had no response.

She said: "It's really heartbreaking. I suppose the advert is really a last resort."

Lonely boy

The advert reads: "Friend wanted for Jack. If you are bored with the holidays and would like to earn some extra pocket-money, please get in touch with Jack's mum.

"I will pay 5 an hour for a child between eight and 11 to come and play with him."


I just want someone to come round for tea with him or something, maybe twice a week

Emma Upfold Jack's mother

A photo of Jack is attached to the notice which has been in the shop window for two weeks without any reply.

Miss Upfold, a part-time nurse, said: "I think he's feeling lonely because he's always looking over the fence at the boy next door playing with his friends.

"I have got friends with children that are his age but they have not really got the patience to play with him because he can't speak.

"I thought that perhaps an older child, boy or girl, would have more patience with him.

"I just want someone to come round for tea with him or something, maybe twice a week."

Befriending service

Jack, who is mad about trains, Thomas the Tank Engine and Bob the Builder, is due to start school in September at St Luke's Primary School.

Until now the little boy, who has a younger sister, Hannah, has attended playgroup twice a week and had private tuition.

A spokeswoman for the National Autistic Society said: "We can't comment on individual cases.

"But some children with autism are very keen to interact and some are not.

"We are developing a befriending service in Leicester to address the difficulties that people with autism face."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Peter Lane
"This story has a happy ending"
Mother Emma Upfold
"He finds it very difficult to interact with children of his own age"

Click here to go to Leicester
See also:

14 Aug 02 | Health
26 Jul 02 | Health
12 May 02 | Education
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