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Letting Go Of James

July 1, 2011

“I’ve driven home from work in tears many times recently, because I just don’t want to let go”, says Jane, James mother at the start of Letting Go of James. But the truth is that the family isn’t coping with him living at home. He is 16, severely autistic, does not speak and can attack other members of the family.

He has been offered a place in full time residential care, and the family is now going through the process of transition. James three brothers take part in several visits to the school and Charles, James’ father, comments on the irony that the family is spending more times with James just as they are about to say goodbye.

Before the final goodbye they have a last family holiday, which despite some magical moments, underlies the fact that James needs to go.

On the final evening tensions are running higher than normal as his parents prepare James for bed, but there is a real moment of revelation when they all do finally say goodbye, as the youngest sibling touches James for the first time, and with time the boys begin to experience a new side of James.

The process of adjusting continues for the family who do not say that they are ‘happier’. They all miss James more than expected, although they can enjoy doing more together, relax a bit more and are relieved it has happened.

James has a number of successful visits home – although just where home is becomes a heartbreaking issue in the programme.

At Christmas he pulls his first ever cracker, but New Year leads Jane to reflect on her ongoing fears for her son. The initial honeymoon period does pass and Jane and Charles admit there are no fairytale endings. Letting Go of James ends with the recognition – from the whole family – that life will never be easy for James and that there will always be difficult choices.

Producers: Anna Scott-Brown & Adam Fowler
A Ladbroke Production for BBC Radio 4.


  1. Sun 3 Jul 2011
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