Play dates with NT kids
We haven't done very many playdates since I am a FT working mom, and since DS goes to daycare we figured he gets plenty of social activity at daycare. However, DS who is on the spectrum has not been happy in daycare and socialization is a major challenge. Also, playdates in the past have not been much of a success, and we understand why now. So, now we want to do playdates in a more controlled fashion preferably with a therapist working with DS. But till the time we find a therapist, we are wondering if we could do this on our own. I will start by saying that I am a conscious sort of person when it comes to teaching kids - I can be great without an adult audience but I don't want to do it without the parents staying to watch their kids and to make sure they are taken care of. That's one hurdle. Another is that I don't know what to do when the other child is no longer interested to play with my child since my child has unusual interests that no other child likely cares about. That's the 2nd hurdle. Also, I am great with kids in general but not with my own DS - how unfair, I know I am bawling right now as I write this - and I have lost my temper (see the swim thread) with DS more than I ever have in my whole life so much as felt with any kid. I could write a book about it, but I digress. And I am afraid that there will be such situations often during the playdate and I don't want the other child to witness it. Of course, I don't want mine either, but I am the only mom he has however bad/unfit I am. That's my third hurdle. Also, I haven't thus far been able to motivate my child to do anything, so I doubt I would be successful in a playdate setting, and worry that I will have more fun with the other child and my child will feel alienated. I know that I have "done" this in the past and that is the reason DS feels closer to his dad than me. Again, a book, but riight now that's a hurdle for the playdate. Has anyone ever started this type of a "program" with their kids and been successful and have overcome similar or other hurdles? I really want some advice to get over these - I have plenty of motivation and ideas and at this point even a mommy who wants to bring her daughter over.
If you can find a Hanen trained therapist, we have found them to be very helpful. Our county intermediate school district offers free parent classes on a regular basis, and many private SLPs also have their training. You can also buy their books to read on your own if you can't find a class or therapist locally:
"TalkAbility" is the most recent class we did, it is for mainly for parents of kids over 3 with HFA. And they have a very helpful chapter on how to structure playdates:
You may want to start by doing playdates with other ASD kids though as you build your confidence. I think you said in other threads you have joined a local parent group? The parents will be the most understanding of your DS's quirks, (and often our kids make better friends with kids who are also on the spectrum anyways...) Once you feel you have a better grasp on what elements you need for your DS to have a successful playdate, then I would work on setting them up with NT kids. (I'm still not there yet with my 4.5 yo unfortunately.)
Would a social skills group work for your family? A good way for DC to meet other children the same age and have positive social interactions in a very controlled environment .
I would try the playdate with the little girl. Let the kids play while the two moms have tea (or something similar). Only getting involved when absolutely necessary...
Well, ds is not on the autism spectrum (ADHD and some anxiety though no dx for that ATM). But I found that generally playdates went better with typically developing kids. They were better able to stick with trying to engage ds and were usually more flexible about doing what ds wanted to for quite a bit of the playdate. When we had playdates with special needs kids, the kids usually ended up doing totally separate things--whatever their current obsessions were. Now, I never had a therapist come along and maybe that would have facilitated things.
My strategy was to choose settings that worked for ds (he had serious noise aversion issues for example so going to an indoor play space did not work) and understanding moms. I had a lot of luck with that. I also found that meeting the same playmates at the same place, at least for a few times in a row, helped.
Your experience may be very different though. Ds had some social skills deficits for sure, but he did generally want to engage.