The Importance of Playdates and Kids with Autism
This is a post in the weekly Autism Hopes series by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez, a mom who blogs over at Atypical Familia (formerly AutismWonderland).
“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” - Fred Rogers
When my son, Norrin, was first diagnosed with autism he had no appropriate play skills. He didn’t even have much interest in playing with other children. Norrin was content playing by himself. I never pushed playdates because our schedules consisted of work, school and therapy. Most of the other special needs parents I know juggle the same kind of schedule. So working on socialization and playdates with peers wasn’t a priority for us especially since we knew it was being done at school.
A few weeks ago, I hosted a party and invited a few moms with their children. It was our first party in years. And it was the first time I had other kids with autism in our home. Unsure of how to host while entertaining children, I asked our ABA therapist if she could help out for a few hours.
I’ve seen Norrin at the playground. Sometimes he’ll run around with another kid but it’s never for more than ten minutes. I’ve seen him in school sitting beside a classmate but not really engaging. Watching Norrin interact with kids in his own environment was eye opening for me. Norrin was talking and sharing and wanting to play with the other kids. He even read his guests a story.
At eight years old, Norrin is finally ready for playdates. And since our little party, he’s been asking for all his friends to come over and play.
I’m no longer tied to mainstream dreams. I just want Norrin to be happy and be as independent as he can. I also want him to have at least one friend. A friendship will never form unless I start cultivating the value and meaning of a friend now.
A few weeks ago I shared that I was ready to start cutting back on our therapy. I’ve spent the last five years focusing on all the skills I thought were more important, always putting socialization on the back burner. It’s time to take play seriously.
Do your children have regular playdates?
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Tags: autism, Autism Hopes, Autism inspiration, Disability, health, Lisa Quinones Fontanez, raising kids with special needs, Special needs, special needs parenting, special needs parenting advice | Categories: ADHD, Autism, Children With Special Needs, Disability, Health, Must Read