Autism Watch: 2007

Playdate Success

Posted on: January 18, 2009

Before I had my fourth child, I have to admit that I laughed when I heard people setting up playdates. Play date? Play what? Really?

To me, playing with other kids was a normal childhood activity, something that happened without schedule, without planning, forethought or real effort. With child number 1, 2, and 3, I didn’t have to arrange any play. Not only did they have older siblings they could easily play with, but we had neighbors and other friends with kids the same age. Then, my fourth child (finally) came along. In ways we didn’t imagine, things changed.

Child number four, my precious Barnacle Boy, had issues getting along with other kids from day one. He actually did love his siblings and show interest in certain activities, but from the minute he could talk, he expressed his dislike and anger towards one sibling, then another. It was this adamant, negative emotion that finally pushed me over the edge into making ‘the’ appointment, you know the one, the appointment where you tell your doctor that something’s wrong and you’re not leaving until you have an answer.

Fast forward several years, my son is the one with zero birthday party invitations from any of his classmates, and it’s January. He’s gone to two parties in the last six months; one was his, and another was the birthday of a friend from first grade, a really fun, compassionate boy with an equally fun, compassionate mother. He’s got 20 other kids in his class at school, and a pretty good sized group of similarly-aged boys/girls in our church family, and gotten one invitation since September.

Anyway, my son wants to be social. He wants kids to come over and wants to, at times, be invited to their house. When your neighbors don’t invite your child over (from reasons ranging from not enough neighbors to not wanting to deal with him), there’s no close family of similar ages within an hour’s drive, and maybe it’s just okay to ignore the ‘different’ kid, I’ve become a playdate setter-upper. Really.

Today, he invited a friend over from church, and he came. We had 2.5 hours of listening to them giggle, laugh, and go back and forth about whatever they wanted, or didn’t want, to do. He got along perfectly with this boy, and the boy seemed to have a good time as well. When it came time to end their time together, as we know our son’s limits and on a Sunday afternoon, we know how soon he’ll become overwhelmed, neither wanted to part ways, but ending a playdate on a successful note is way better than ending it because my son’s locked himself in a closet or because they are just tried of co-existing, which happens with 8-year-olds, and is normal, but some parents don’t get that.

After laughing at the word playdate, in my pre-autism days, I can honestly say I ‘get it’ now. Playdates are necessary. Much like many people won’t ‘get’ autism and its behaviors until they experience it in their own family, I didn’t get playdates. Now I do. Dare I hope the same for others and autism?

1 Response to "Playdate Success"

I’m so glad he had a good time playing! They can be a pain but I think it’s good for everyone involved. I’ve been slacking off on playdates and should really set some up.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 34 other followers

Twitter Updates

  • None
%d bloggers like this: