My son just started a school-like program for the first time two weeks ago. It's four days a week for five hours. It's therapy based for kids on the autism spectrum, but there are "preschool" elements, circle time etc and they work really hard to get the kids to play together, as social skills are definitely something they are all working on.
Anyway, I stayed to observe on Thurs and was really surprised to see my son engaging in gun play with another child. We do not allow toy guns in our house and my son actually thinks they are drills when he sees them at the store. The other child clearly knew what guns were as he held his bionicle up to my son and pointed it at him making gun noises. My son repeated the noises. I don't think he understood that the other child was pretending to shoot, but he really likes playing with this kid (which makes me really happy, I am so glad he's found a friend) but I really don't like the violent play.
I know that at some point he is going to learn that people hurt and kill one another, I just love that he is so innocent that he does not know guns exist. I would love to keep it that way.
At the same time, I am thrilled to see him interacting with his new friends and trying to learn their games. This is huge for him.
This was in free play, though each child has a therapist shadow within a few feet at all times. They eventually redirected the play, but after several (7-10ish) minutes.
We always planned on homeschooling and plan to bring him home when he ages out of this program, but until then how do I deal with this peer influence? And is this something I should speak with the director about? I would really prefer if violent play was redirected from the get go. I know that other families feel different about that and autistic kids are not always easy to redirect, so it's pretty complicated. I don't want to make waves if I am over reacting, but I also don't want my son to play this way.
To be clear, I don't think the other child or his family are "bad" or anything and I think overall he's actually been a good influence on my son, who seems to think he's the coolest kid ever, I am just trying to figure out how to keep my family's values at the forefront when sending my son out into the world. I am sure this is just the first of many issues like this to come as we're pretty far from normal around here with no violent play, no character clothes etc.
Thanks for any advice!