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ASD toddler: play dates

(10 Posts)
Yarnie Thu 16-Jun-11 18:35:28

Our DS (2 years, 2 months) has a preliminary diagnosis of ASD.

I've come for a bit of sympathy, I suppose, and practical tips, should you have any.

We've just had another disastrous play date at home. A sweet, quiet boy with similar interest to DS came over with his Mum. DS spent the whole time in tears and was basically inconsolable. He seems to consider play dates at home an invasion.

Play dates at other people's houses can go better, depending on his mood. Some times (not often) he will settle and play (in parallel). Some times he hangs on to the door frame so I can't even go into the house and we just have to turn around and go home.

Our paediatrician says that we should be challenging DS socially (gently) and I can see that he needs to experience this kind of set up so I can begin to teach him the rules of social engagement, but it feels so unproductive 80% of the time. He is just upset and not learning anything.

It will pass, but right now I'm despairing of being able to do the right thing by DS or of managing to get any social interaction myself!

Chundle Thu 16-Jun-11 18:43:06

Hi my dd is 22 months we have no dx as yet but have been told she has 'sensory and social communication issues'. Anyway she finds other kids hard work and quite frankly can't stand them - especially in HER house! Howeve I have a very good friend who has a ds the same age and after much preservering and going to her house once a week religiously she has now accepted this boy as her one and only 'friend'. She also allows him into our home. He is the only child she tolerates and I think it's as they have known each oter since babyhood and he's a quiet unassuming boy. However challenges are presenting themselves now as he wants her to 'play' with him and she would rather switch the plugs on and off or fill up and empty containers of toys!
It is a struggle but I think once you find the 'right' child for them to befriend it works well. In the park the other day my dd even let this little boy hold her hand and I nearly cried! Luckily got a quick snap on my phone smile
Sorry no real advice just hope you manage to find a friend for him x

Chundle Thu 16-Jun-11 18:45:34

Oh one thing I did think of, my dd loves biscuits and sweets and although won't take them off other people my friend always made sure when she opened the front door that she held out a plate with a treat on for my dd which tempted her in ;)

utah Thu 16-Jun-11 18:54:52

You could try your sure start centre ask about sn groups where the parents are much more relaxed and the children over time do interact and you have nt siblings there as well. Ask about early bird the course for me was very good for making a network of people with great understanding and children who strangely seem to respect each other socially if your child wants to run around in a circle then that is no big deal. While the weather is good try playdates at parks to make the relationship between the children grow without the other child invading your sons space and then hopefully they can begin again at your house. I make the mistake of giving up for a while when by DS was 2 and i regret that.

BialystockandBloom Thu 16-Jun-11 18:59:23

It is hard, but the best thing you can do is get the worst of it out of the way now, while he is still so young, as (agree with your paed on this) the earlier he gets used and accepts interaction the better.

Once he has accepted the company of another child, you can then start building on this to work up to him actually enjoying playing with another child (obviously parallel play at first).

Things to do right now: save up his absolute favourite game/activity/food/toys/tv programme to have only when another child is there, so he associates the two things. When a child comes into the room and he screams, ignore him but concentrate on the other child. When ds has calmed down (might take a long time initially) turn to him and include him in the game, give him your attention. Next time he joins in with what you're doing with the other child, or even when he settles himself to play alongside the other child, give him loads and loads of praise, attention, cuddles, tickles etc. So you're positively reinforcing to him that he gets good stuff when there is another child involved. Don't worry at this point whether he actually plays with the other kid - just accepting another child there is a start and is progress for him. Small steps.

The fact that he is so young is great - you have loads of time to help with his social interaction while his mind is still developing.

HTH a bit.

Yarnie Thu 16-Jun-11 19:10:10

Thanks, both. Chundle, the tip about having something he really likes waiting for him at a play date is a good one. I'll have a think about what might tempt him.

Utah - I'm lucky enough to have a tremendously understanding network of friends, so I don't need to worry too much about what they think of DS' behaviour. They have been brilliant. We keep getting invited back despite DS' many meltdowns(!) I'm more concerned that I'm just not getting many opportunities to help DS. We have play dates at the park all the time, but to be honest, the people we meet might as well be any old stranger in the park. DS just gets as far away from them as possible. Still, I'll ask about the course - I don't want to leave any stone unturned. We're at our Sure Start centre all the time.

Chundle - I am hoping to set up a regular "play date" with my best friend who has just had a baby. I think it's a great idea, as DS loves routine. Unfortunately, none of DS' peers are available to do anything more regular than once every two weeks. At least, going to my BF's house will get him used to being in some one else's house. Also, DC2 is due in Dec, so good to get him used to being around a baby. Dear god, I'm worried about that, too...

LeninGrad Thu 16-Jun-11 19:36:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Yarnie Thu 16-Jun-11 21:04:15

Bloom - Thanks, that's very sound, structured advice. I'll give some of it a whirl. My only concern is that generally he doesn't scream - he is genuinely upset and sobbing. He's not tantruming. I don't know how comfortable I would feel ignoring him in that situation. I'm sure part of it is to ensure he has my attention, but a lot of it is confusion and general miserableness at someone being in his space (I think).

Chundle Thu 16-Jun-11 22:07:52

Yarnie word of warning may not be the same for your ds but my dd cannot stand babies! They are unpredictable, make sudden jerky movements, loud sudden noises etc etc when we have them at the house dd either throws things at them or promptly gives them their shoes, bag, coat etc (hint for them to sod off!) I pray your friend gaff tapes the babies mouth and all goes swimmingly smile
Regular playdates are the way to progress though maybe if he likes baby he would touch her , stroke her etc

Tiggles Thu 16-Jun-11 22:26:58

DS has AS. Whenever we had playdates over before they arrived he would decide what toys would be put away as he didn't like people touching them.
When he went to friends houses, even at age 4-5, he used to be quite happy playing in their house but not actually with the 'friends'. Fortunately he was 'friends' with my best friends DS and she was quite happy to have him playing in a different room to her DS. She would encourage a small amount of time of joint play within the playdate when at her house.
At age 2 though, most NT children are only playing along side each other rather than together.

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