I know this might be crazy to read, but Mr. L has his first official play date today. I’m talking like asking another kid from school if they wanted to come over and play for a few hours and they agree on a time and showed up.
Yeah, there have been neighbor kids running around outside and Mr. L has attempted to join in and the neighbor kids have knocked on our door and asked for all of our kids to come out and play in the “next door neighbor pack” of kids. Heck, we’ve had his little brother Mr. C have a friend over to play and Mr. L has been invited to participate. And we’ve been invited out into the community to do things with friends.
But today was a milestone not only for our son who was diagnosed with autism at a very young age, but his friend he invited from school also has some similar level disabilities, and this was a “first time” play date for his friend from school too.
It was all very exciting and both mommas were a bit nervous to be trying this new thing.
But let’s start with the invite. I sent a text to this mom about a week ago (this was the same kid we invited to Mr. L’s birthday party last year), and she happily responded with a day that would work for both of our schedules.
Turns out this kid’s parents had asked their sweet kiddo if he liked our son and he told them yes, that not only did he like Mr. L, but that apparently our kiddo stands up for their son at school and keeps a kid from picking on him. Aww right in the feels 🥰
So we had set a date and I had let her know when I was inviting her son to our house that she was more then welcome to drop him off, come inside for a tour then leave, or she was more then welcome to come in for a tour and then stick around the whole time.
Because I gotta let you know, taking your child who has a cognitive disability to a new home is stressful on a whole other level then for those who parent neurotypical children. As a special needs parent you want to make sure that not only is a new home kid friendly and kid safe, it needs to be special needs safe. You don’t want to just make sure that your child will have a good time. When it comes to your child with extra needs, this new space needs to have humans in it that won’t physically, emotionally or verbally abuse your child. And at minimum, if your child has a problem you need to know that the people in that house won’t make the situation worse.
When you are vetting people to be responsible for your special needs child, you need to know that if your child has a special situation come up, that they will be handled appropriately with respect, patience, kindness and understanding. It’s hard to put into words the level of concern that these parents can have because making sure others “get it” isn’t easy. It’s just so easy to upset a child with a communication disorder and then it’s even easier to escalate that child and then ruin their day, just because you didn’t know what they were trying to communicate with you.
It’s so tricky, and to those outside the special needs community this whole concern can sound so dramatic or ridiculous… Until they think they can easily handle a friend with autism and then they experience that moment of misunderstanding and they realize just how unprepared they truly are.
The good news though, is that patience really does go such a long ways. Patience can de-escalate and help solve so many problems in this world and honestly it could save lives.
But this is why inviting a friend from school is such a big deal. It’s not only a brave step and a leap of faith, it’s also hope that your own child chooses to have a good day and that everyone can enjoy each other’s company.
So Mr. L’s friend came over today. His dad brought him over, the kids gave their friend a tour of the house, I gave his dad a more casual and less detailed tour of our home (I really didn’t think he wanted to see all the different cereals and spoons we have 😉 like the child lead tour provided) and then we had a really nice chat at my kitchen table while the kids had a successful play date (my husband was able to participate for the first half before being needed on a conference call).
My younger 2 kids played video games with their visitor while Mr. L watched for a bit, had a glass of milk and drew some robots. Then they checked out the kids room for awhile before Mr. C and our new friend settled down at the coffee table to play a Pokémon game. During the Pokémon game, Mr. L played on his Nintendo switch for a bit and played with his legos for awhile.
Little Miss A tagged along for the first half and then ate Oreos the second half because she was disappointed that the boys had picked Pokémon to play with.
I know you might be asking, how was that a good play date? Especially when chatting with the kid’s dad we agreed that it was a successful day. Because shouldn’t the classmates be the ones playing together? But around here, we measure success differently. So here is my list of why I think we had a win today:
- The kids had a good time
- The adults had a nice chat
- None of the kids had a meltdown
- Everyone would like to schedule a 2nd get together
So maybe our kids didn’t run around playing the same game and maybe they didn’t sit down and talk the whole time. But the hope is that maybe after a few more play dates, these two boys will be comfortable enough to overlap their interests. Just like everything else, this new milestone may take time to get a hang of. But I’m glad it went well and I’m excited to see if this kiddo would like to come over again sometime soon!
Sounds like a great beginning.
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This sounded like a wonderful outing. I’m very happy for Mr L and his friend and for both your families. Congrats on helping make this big day happen for everyone!
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You amaze me each day.
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Thank you 😊