Autism: Kindergarten Playdate

Kindergarten Playdate Friday was a professional development day at school which means, no school. Without exception from any other day, my son asked “what are we going to do today, mom?” It seems like it would be a reasonable question, but when my son inquires, it basically means: Give me a play by play of everything we will do. Many times, my day has not been completely scheduled and I must think quickly about the tasks, errands, or play that we can do. There will be no room for spontaneity as my son will create a checklist to mark off (throughout the day) as soon as I answer his question.

I try to keep the kids busy so on the checklist, we had to go to take my daughter to a class at the Y, go to BJ’s, and promised each could invite a friend over. Having only done this once before with my son’s pre-school classmates, I felt he might be ready to give it another try and called a very nice boy from Ry’s class whom I have seen take to him. Upon opening up the door, Ryan ran into the other room. I greeted his friend and promptly began to facilitate play in hopes of making both boys comfortable and bringing Ryan into the play. “Let’s play on the smart cycle. You can both race against eachother”, I suggested. Though the game was a big hit with the friend, my son hung out in the background (sometimes even up the stairs) trying to get his bearings. I understood, but I wondered if the little boy who was over understood.

It was a long playdate. I made cookie cutouts of each letter from everyone’s name (girls included). My son loves to spell his name and I thought his friend may have the same affinity. This was a strategic move as I knew this would take up time as an activity, everyone would have a snack, it would be fun for all, AND Ryan could participate on his own terms (though he would never eat the cookie), in his own space. I hoped the friend would also feel better because, up until now, he had two little 3 year old girls trying to grab his attention….something, I’m sure, he didn’t expect when accepting the invite. Poor guy.

In hindsight, I’m glad Ryan had his playdate. Though you would think he may not have liked the discomfort, I can guarantee that Ryan will talk to his class about having his friend over on Tuesday. I think the friend is a keeper and I will do it again, and again, and again. Even at such young ages, a core character is already developed. Each one of these boys could certainly teach the other.

For me: I will not lie, it was exhausting. But: I am so happy that Ryan will have this event to “play up” for school and feel great about, maybe even typically social. Well worth it.

What do you do for a play date?

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Meredith Zolty
My kid is great! And he has PDD-NOS and ADHD (e-i-e-i-o). The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Watch us navigate the world of neurodiversity at
Meredith Zolty


My kid is great! And he has PDD-NOS and ADHD (e-i-e-i-o). The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Watch us navigate the world of neurodiversity at

2 thoughts on “Autism: Kindergarten Playdate

  • July 30, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    Thankfully my kids do not have any learning disabilities, but we had a play date yesterday with two 10 year old and one 8 year old girls and I am just as exhausted!!  I work from home so juggling it all and keeping everyone occupied can be nerve racking!!! Standing ovation to the families that have to juggle in special needs too!  Hugs to you all!

    Stacey Kannenberg
    Cedar Valley Publishing

  • July 20, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    I must admit that my grandparents once set me up on a playdate with an aspergers boy. It was incredibly awkward, and at the time I felt like I was being humiliated- like I was somehow like this boy… it didn’t go over so well. I’m ADHD and I swear he had a worse attention span than I. I actually attempted to play checkers with him- bad mistake.

    Yet another one of my embarrassing childhood memories- especially when I have to admit that, as a child, I thought that kid was a complete retard. Now I just feel horrible about that too….


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