BloggersGuest User Post

Playing with Friends

Jazzy says: I live in Dublin, Ireland with hubby and 1 son (who has ASD). I’m a stay-at-home mum and have lots of interests. My blog, Jazzygal, is about our journey through life with our gorgeous boy. I do attempt to serve all my rambling ruminations with a side of humour!

As any parent of a child that is anywhere on the Autistic Spectrum will know, playing with friends is not something that comes easy to our children. They have to learn how to appropriately approach another child in order to make friends. They have to learn that saying a simple “Hi” works much better than pulling silly faces and making strange noises at the other child….. for example. Having a buddy system in place in whatever school the child is in can be really helpful and over time the child will (hopefully) learn to be friends with more than one child. They will learn, through supports in place in school and at home, how to have a proper conversation, how to start, take part and end a conversation appropriately too. We also have to teach them to accept that they can’t talk about their favourite topic forever!! Teaching them to read body language is a very difficult thing though!

It can take many years before we have a successful outcome.

We have worked on this with WiiBoy for a long time and in the last few years, his friend base has increased substantially. He has a pal or two over to play two to three times a week (at separate times) and our neighbour’s child calls in most days also! He even gets called upon to help other children with their Wii games!! His special interest can be helpful to others it seems!! We have come a long way from the mum-stays-too-playdates of yore.

He has had a few small group playdates in the last year. They have been relatively successful if we exclude football! It came to our attention late last school year that some of the boys have a pizza party after school some Fridays. He was invited to his best pal’s one and he loved it. I thought it was a great idea. A really grown up activity for them. A pre-cursor for their teenage hang-out years!

As we no longer go to swimming classes on a Friday after school I decided it was high time for us to host what I reckon is the ultimate in play dates (especially for the ASD child.) A group play date….. a party for no reason play date, as WiiBoy himself, put it! I mean as play dates go this has to be the pinnacle.

Oh, he was so excited from Wednesday on. He had to take responsibility for asking them himself, then making sure that their mums said it was okay. I shadowed that, in the background, by texting the mums too. There were initially four friends coming but that quickly morphed into six of them!

He was very excited on Friday morning and after a difficult day in school (more about that anon) I arrived home with a car full of hyper boys, to find that I’d forgotten my house keys!! Can you imagine? Four boys in the car (with three more on their way) coming for a party and we can’t get into the house! No need to worry though, I know me very well and there’s a spare key in my car at all times. My neighbour also has a key for these regular occurrences!

He had organized things very well and had asked two of his friends to bring their X-Box remotes. To be honest I think that’s what excited him the most……. playing X-Box in four-player mode!  But, there was seven of them. I left them to argue sort that one out for themselves!

They all seemed to enjoy and WiiBoy was in his element. They had pizzas, ice cream, and Doritos and played away to their heart’s content amidst tons of accompanying hyper squeals… the loudest of which came from himself! It was refreshing to hear his pals tell him to quieten down for a change!! These squeals of his would burst your eardrums at times. I kid you not!

So it was a successful play date, but it didn’t end there. Oh no…. he didn’t want it to end so he ended up going home with the last kid left standing! They collected another one on the way and had a nice impromptu DVD evening. Which was promptly followed yesterday by yet another play date which morphed into an impromptu sleepover….. which was very handy as Jazzy here was off out on a grown-up group playdate of her own! (More about that to follow too.) And the weekend was rounded off with yet another play date today!

Methinks that play dates, parties for no reasons, impromptu DVD nights and sleepovers may mean that my little man is growing up. I mean, he had no time for cuddles with his ole mum and dad at all this weekend!

Before we know it they’ll be meeting each other in the local for pints.

Now, there’s a sobering thought!

So, at present, we have a hugely successful outcome on the social skills front. This is a direct result of the commitment and support from all involved i.e. School (Principal and Teachers), SNA Angel and Home. The Holy Trinity…. as far as I’m concerned. It is amazing what can be achieved when everybody is on board. And there are areas other than Social Skills where this Holy Trinity excels.

We are now entering a new stage of Wiiboy’s development and this level of commitment needs to be continued.

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