I want J-man to have friends.

I think all parents want their children to have friends, right?  Well, except that psycho mom from the movie Carrie.  And maybe that mom from the movie Throw Momma From the Train.  But, you know, their attitudes resulted in some unsavory consequences.

I want J-man to have friends.  And when your child is on the spectrum, relationships are hard, and language is hard, and processing is hard…  friendships become hard too.  Hard for the ASD kiddo, and hard for the neurotypical kiddo, and hard for parents.  Cause, you know, no one knows what to do!  Or how to do it or how to explain it or how to manage it or how to understand it.  It is just harder.

J-man’s therapists have started working on social play skills, and we are getting some favorable feedback. The trouble is, of course, J-man doesn’t always respond… or the other child doesn’t respond… and the shared moments are lost due to whatever it is that impedes it.  Sensory processing?  Language barrier?  Attention issue?  All of the above?  None of the above?

Social communication relies on mutual give and take.  And if one… or both… of the actors are grappling with autism, it could be hard to get them engaged with each other.  So I had a thought…  what if we had a playdate for J-man at his program?  With a neurotypical kiddo.  And not just any neurotypical kiddo… my friend’s son G-man… a wildly social, verbal, and engaged playmate.  Who just happens to really like J-man and wants to be his friend.  Could they become good playmates for each other with some facilitation from J-man’s therapists and us?  Could G-man develop an understanding and appreciation J-man even though he ‘plays differently’ and doesn’t always respond?  Could G-man’s persistence (which he has in spades) draw J-man out?

Could they become real friends?

J-man and G-man

So today, G-man and J-man had a facilitated playdate at his program.  It was a first trial, and we were not sure if it would be a good idea or not.  We drank coffee and waited.  And wondered.  And talked about all kinds of things while we waited and wondered.  I am sure my friend was nervous.  I mean, she just left her G-man with a bunch of strangers.  Frankly, I think she deserves a reward for her willingness to try this!  (I adore you, Ms N!)

And as G-man came out into the lobby at the end of the playdate, G-man cried to his mom…

“Mom!  I don’t want to go home!  I want to stay and play”…  YES!

Apparently, it was a huge success.  J-man’s therapist said it went fantastic!  She said that there wasn’t a whole lot of engagement during ‘quiet play’ (cars, trucks, etc), but during gross motor movement and action play there were wonderful exchanges between the two boys.  She said they would love to have G-man back again, and that they saw real value in working with the boys.  YES!!!

It is a first step and I hope it leads to great things!!!

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