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In a bit of a dilema. It's a little sensitive. Could really do with your advice.

(7 Posts)
makemineaquadruple Fri 09-Sep-11 10:19:46


Was a little confused as to how I should name the subject of this post. Hence, it's rather vague.

Anyway, dd(possible mild asd, 4.10) has a friend who has downs syndrome. They've been friends since pre school and their faces light up when they see each other. I'm obviously really happy that they're happy. The only problem is, when she plays with him she tends to mimic his behaviour, which includes running round constantly and it's sometimes difficult to snap her out of it. I also hear that he sometimes will hit her on the head. I know that he doesn't want to hurt her and that it's just something he does, but nevertheless, i'm obviously not over the moon about it.

So here comes the sensitive question. Do I ask the school to try and separate them? Not constantly, but just so they mix with other children more and so they can interact with more of a variety of children. School and pre school both mentioned that her behaviour is better when she's not playing with this boy.

I feel awul asking this question. I know many of you have children with downs syndrome, so it's important to me that I don't offend anyone. I'm genuinely not sure what to do.

Any advice very welcome.

Agnesdipesto Fri 09-Sep-11 11:23:32

Schools should be making sure children mix with different children anyway, not just have 1 friend. This isn't really just a SN issue. I know many parents who are not exactly enthused with their child's choice of friend. But ultimately children do make their own friends and parents have to lump it. Friendships made at 4 are very fluctuating anyway and girls / boys tend to drift apart by year 2. Our school will usually sit best friends away from each other in class so to make sure children mix. Also all children tend to mimic their friends to fit in. Thats normal. First week back at school and my NT 9 year old is coming home full of 'street talk'. I would be ecstatic if my 4 year old ASD son ever made a friend. If they like each other they should be able to play together, so personally I wouldn't be asking for them to be separated; but i do think its fine to say can they try and make sure she mixes more and plays with the girls sometimes too, because ultimately its the girls behaviour she needs to copy to have a good friendship group further up the school. How does the parent of the boy feel about it? Is it a problem for them or would they be really upset if they knew you wanted to separate him and your DD? If you look round the playground you will see lots of kids that age mimicking silly behaviour (especially the boys!). Is the behaviour she is mimicking really a problem / age inappropriate or are you just reading too much into it because the boy has Downs. Most children with Downs are very social and attract other children like magnets (especially the motherly girls) so being friends with this boy may actually help your child make friends more easily than if she was left to do so on her own. A DS child would be a great match for an ASD kid in my book because they are so social and so persistent and won't let your ASD kid get away with isolating. Given making friends is something your DD is likely to struggle with she will probably gain alot from this friendship which is so accepting and warm. But I would say girls social skills tend to be ahead of boys and become quite complicated quite young, so she does need to spend time with the girls too or she may be left behind.

sickofsocalledexperts Fri 09-Sep-11 12:00:48

I would be very careful about asking them to separate. It is very hurtful the other way round, for mum and child. But I would mention the hitting - myself, I would probably tackle the mum first, but I know some people prefer to go to the teacher.

Claw3 Fri 09-Sep-11 12:19:07

Ds (ASD) has real problems making friends or maintaining friendships, he is also terrible at choosing 'appropriate' friends ie he will want to be friends with children who obviously take advantage of him, hit him, tell him to do things or simpy dont want to play with him etc, etc. Ds has been 'banned' from playing with certain children.

Ds's school operate a 'buddy' system (albeit very badly), where he chooses a pupil in his class to play with at playtime, he chooses someone different every play time, from a list of 'appropriate' children. This could work at mixing with other children, besides 'best friends'.

Ideally, i dont think children should be 'banned' from playing with each other, ds will meet 'inappropriate' people and face 'inappropriate' situations, throughout his life and a better approach would be to teach ds how to handle this. It would also teach other children to be more tolerate of differences, but this isnt about to happen anytime soon.

graciousenid Fri 09-Sep-11 12:34:05

A DS child would be a great match for an ASD kid in my book because they are so social and so persistent and won't let your ASD kid get away with isolating.

My son's only aged matched friend (he gets on better with older children & loves to 'look after' the little ones - 4 & 5yos are a problem though) is a little boy with DS. I don't want to make broad generalisations but this boy is fabulous for ds - he is enthusiastic, persistent, affectionate, incredibly sociable & outgoing - he really is the only one of the older preschool kids who have the patience & determination to make ds play with them! I hope that he gets something positive out of their relationship too smile

makemineaquadruple Fri 09-Sep-11 13:09:32

Thanks everyone.

I think i've put my question across completely wrong for a start. I've read it back and it's not really what I meant to say. I don't want anyone to "separate" them. I think I just meant encourage them to play with other children. I wouldn't want them not to play together atall as I believe they each get a lot out of each other. I just feel like this boy is becoming very reliant on dd and i'm worried they're using her a bit to keep him quiet at times. He has 1 to 1(who is lovely btw), but sometimes when I drop dd off I hear the teacher say "oh it's ok now *(dd) is here, so don't panic". I've even heard his mum say it a few times. Also, she mentions quite a lot that this boy is the only boy who wants to play with her, so I think she's kind of given up trying to make other friendships. I feel a bit like the school are happy as long as they're not disrupting any other children. They probably see it as a blessing rather than a potential problem for either of them iyswim.

I suppose really I know I need to speak to the teachers about it, but really wanted some advice on how to approach it.

Agnesdipesto Fri 09-Sep-11 13:57:58

But thats what a teacher or parent would say to any child when their best friend turns up at school if the child is a bit anxious. I'm not implying there isn't too much of a dependency here; but equally most children that age will look for their friend when they get to school. I would approach it from the perspective of asking if she is mixing with the girls / other children and if not whether they can encourage that. Often children play with more children than they let on - both my older children have sworn blind they have only one friend or no friends at times only for me to feel a complete idiot when the teacher said they played with lots of other children and were very popular. If the boy wasn't there for a day would she be ok? would she just find someone else? Thats the issue. You could also ask the teacher whether there are any particular girls she plays with and then invite them over after school for playdates and encourage other friendships that way. I'm not underplaying the SN aspect - but also this is a problem typical of 4 year olds and usually it does all shake out in the end. My oldest boy befriended the two loudest, silliest, hyperactive boys who were always in trouble in his first term. He is serious and hates to be told off so I thought this is never going to work and sure enough by the end of the year he had moved onto boys who were more on his wave length. All very amicable, at that age friendships are pretty fluid. His best friend now he sat next to for 2 years and they were never close and then 12 months later when they were no longer in the same group they became inseparable. Schools usually organise activities so as to mix the kids up and a good reception teacher will be looking out to see children are mixing and socialising. Also children need time to settle into school, its natural to stick with who they know until they find their feet. If she's not mixing by half term I would perhaps want school to intervene, but a good school will have picked it up themselves long before then

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