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6yo DS obsessed with neighbour's son(10 Posts)
My DS has suspected AS and is very demand avoidant. His anxiety and need for control has plagued us all summer and shows no sign of easing off now that we're back to school (year 2).
DS (our only child) is driven by a strong desire to have playmates and his sense of fun means he has accumulated quite a few. It's lovely that he wants to have fun with his friends, but unfortunately his need for control and the quirks that come with having AS have made the play dates and brief encounters increasingly difficult with some really awful meltdowns of late (rarely does a play date go smoothly).
Our next door neighbour's son is his current best friend. There's a hole in the back garden hedge so they can go freely between the houses and play (theoretically) at any time of the day. The boy is very patient with my DS and they play reasonably well (although increasingly it's screen-based and noise levels through the roof - they both shout a lot).
We really struggle with the situation because DS is on watch all the time and only wants to play with his friend. We have to manage potential meltdowns when it's time to stop playing. He might hear the neighbour come home late when DS is tucked up in bed and that will throw him off sleep for hours. He refuses to do anything with us when there's a chance the neighbour might be around - which means that all our family time is governed by car movements in the neighbour's driveway.
I'm certain DS needs some quiet time to shake off all the demands of the school day. But our home is just another unpredictable battle ground for him to navigate, he has nowhere to hide - and seemingly doesn't want to!
Does anyone have any advice? I'm spending a lot of time trying to comfort a frustrated and over-wrought child at the moment.
Could you explain to the boy's parents and together devise more scheduled time in that you could work into a visual timetable for your DS - e.g. weeknights it's 4-5, weekends 10-12 or 2-4; something like that.
Then your DS will know exactly what times he can play with his friend and understand that even if his friends is home during other times he'll be doing something else? Clearly there may still have to be some flexibility, but it might provide a bit more structure to the visits (and also make ending them a bit easier).
It is tricky when it's a neighbour (we've had a similar situation altho it's the neighbour's boy who always wants to come round - but DS needs a lot more downtime than he does, so I have to be a bit brutal sometimes about keeping it short / sending him home when DS reaches overload).
Thanks Marshmallow, that's kind of what I've instinctively done. I've arranged a play date for Weds after school and yet it didn't seem to satisfy his desire. He thinks he wants to play with this kid 24-7!
Not sure how I can timetable another family's kid into our routine. A regular Weds play is semi-plausible but there would almost certainly be occasions when our neighbours have to let us down and that would be a big deal for DS. Also it negates our DS's real need for space and calm.
I'm thinking I need to somehow have a chat with DS about the importance of recharging to avoid getting overwhelmed. But feels like he's a long way off having that emotional intelligence.
Yes it's very tricky. DS (nearly 9) still doesn't recognise when he's becoming overstimulated (or 'wild' as he calls it) - once he's calmed he does then retrospectively realise - but the only way to head it off is by close management.
I totally get what you are saying above. There isn't an easy answer - but I would still enlist the other parents if you can (our neighbour's mum is v understanding and does get that DS can only cope with so much socialising before he needs a break - even if DS doesn't yet recognise it himself). We stick to Mon / Weds Fri / Sun to make it a bit more manageable (for me as well).
Thanks, appreciate your advice. It is hard and I don't think there is a solution. I'm going to at least limit the time they play together so DS can have some downtime before bed. The other saving grace is that the neighbours lead quite a busy life and this boy is often not around. With the school week, I can find out when the boy is and isn't around so that we can plan in some chilled out time. Weekends will probably continue to be more stressful and chaotic. sigh
I would block up the fence so you have more control and for safety. Then perhaps help ds work out ways to go and ask to play, which would be a really helpful skill for him to learn.
Invite friend to your house and be more proactive in what they do so ds doesn't get to meltdown stage.
If ds melts down after an hour stop the play date after 50 minutes.
It is lovely that he likes the boy next door so much
I think getting DS to ask to play is a nice idea. At the moment, I tend to knock on their front door and DS waits at ours. In fine weather, DS would crawl through the hedge and just bang on the neighbour's patio doors. Bad weather definitely takes away the sponteneity and some of the pressures.
The meltdowns have all been in response to our demands to stop play or not allowing him to play. Generally gets on (in an excited way) with this kid. I think we're getting better at avoiding the out and out meltdowns from this situation, it's just still the frustrations and anxiety I'm trying to curb. As these things go, it's probably not such a bad problem to have!
If sounds like something really positive and lovely that you can slowly work with to help him find it all easier.
Thanks Polter. I'll take comfort from that and hope you're right.