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Conflicted...need advice.

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I have a friend that I've known for several years now. My older son is 5.5 and her son is 4.5. We have had many playdates in the past, but now it is starting to get a bit more difficult. You see, her son is autistic. He is basically non-verbal and doesn't "play" with my son. It never bothered him before but I think now that he's getting older, he's told me that he doesn't really like going over there so I feel like I don't want to make him. However, my friend really likes having my son over, she says her son really likes it. I offered to come over instead when my oldest is in school in the am and bring just my youngest (2). Should I say anything about it or just not mention it? What if she asks me to come over in the afternoon with both kids, I don't want to offend her, but my oldest is just really bored there and usually starts acting out a bit.
post #2 of 14
Originally Posted by applecider View Post

 He is basically non-verbal and doesn't "play" with my son. It never bothered him before but I think now that he's getting older, he's told me that he doesn't really like going over there so I feel like I don't want to make him.

Have you and the other mom worked together to try to find something the boys could do together, such as playing with art supplies together, or playing video games together?


I have a child on the spectrum, so I'm not coming from a balanced point of view.  I find having a child on the spectrum isolating.


It's really good for kids on the spectrum to be around neuro-typical kids. Have you talked to your son about what is going on with the other child?  I also have a neuro-typical child, and she is growing into such a sweet and compassionate person, and I believe it's partly because she loves someone with autism.


Your son has something to gain by figuring out this friendship. It'll take work and honesty, but it might be worth the effort, for BOTH the boys sakes.


post #3 of 14

Another mom of a kiddo on the spectrum here. 


Be honest with her, but kind. Tell her your son is bored, but as Linda said, try to see if you can find an activity they can enjoy together before calling if off all together. I know my son plays best outdoors, as running around etc does not require the same level of social skills as most indoor play. Legos are another good option for my son. If you let your friend know that the format of the playdates isn't working for your son I think it would be less offensive than just no longer bringing your son there. 


It is really isolating being a mom to a kid on the spectrum and your friend probably really needs this interaction. Now it's not your responsibility to make sure she gets to see adults, but it would be really kind of you to try.

post #4 of 14

I agree, be very honest but kind.  Even kids not on the spectrum aren't always a good match for our kids.  While it would be wonderful if our great friends had kids who became our children's best friends but that is not always the case.  


For example my son is a gamer, is not into sports and is on the "young" side of his age-still loves super heroes, playing with trucks, etc.  One of my close girlfriend's son (same age) is a total outdoors/sports kid. Knows and actively follows all the local sports teams, plays football and baseball and hates video games. When they were small it was fine but when we get together now it is a nightmare as they just don't get along for more than 15-20 minutes.  While it was hard we had to agree that it was not worth forcing the kids friendship.  So now we get together more on our own, w/o the boys. I was glad that we could talk about it, not take it personally and maintain our friendship.

post #5 of 14


 Another ASD mum here and I agree with the suggestions. Life is isolating for us ASD mums and the kids. Even more so now that I am Homeschooling.


I am SO blessed to have my BF who always welcomes my 2 SN kids into her home and goes out of her way to understand my kids needs and plan things that my kids can do well. I adore her for that.

post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies. I think the main reason that we get together is our friendship! For me, the playdate is secondary. I think you all have good ideas and I will talk to my son about them. I have never mentioned anything to him about her son being different and he has never said anything to me either. That's because when they were younger, their differences didn't seem to be as obvious. It's easier if they come over here, but she just had a baby so it is hard for her to get out. The other hard thing is that my friend and I just want to talk and since my son can't really talk with her son, he wants to talk to us. I will think about some activities that I can bring for him. Do you have any suggestions? I hope I don't offend, but generally it seems like her son just kind of wanders around yelling. He doesn't really "play" with anything, but I suppose I could ask if there were any activities that she thinks her son and my son would enjoy. Outside is definitely easier too, but it's just too nasty right now. Thanks for the ideas!
post #7 of 14

Can you just have your ds bring something to do on his own if the other kid wanders away?

Play dough, legos, puzzles, coloring books...what is your ds interested in?



When we visit our friends their kids (younger & boys) don't really try to play with my dd much. They all do their own thing. Sometimes she comes and talks to the adults but I don't think anyone minds that. She usually brings something she likes with her. We aren't really going there with the goal that she will play with the other kids though.

post #8 of 14

Not to mention that children need to learn that not everything is always about them. Even at a young age. It is a good time to teach about compassion for others.


Good luck. I am also a Mama with a child on the Spectrum. Sometimes, it is a lonely existence.

post #9 of 14

Be honest with your friend.  My son isn't on the spectrum, but has ADHD and especially when he was younger he had major speech and social delays.  Play dates with typical peers were essential to teaching him social skills.  I'm forever grateful to the friends who made the play dates possible and who saw all the ways my son was like their kids and not how he was different.


My son is almost 9 and some of his friends are on the spectrum, he does great with them.  One of my friend's son is also on the spectrum, and while my son tolerated him, it was clear the play date was really for my friend and to get together, not for the kids.  But, my son was one of the few kids my friend's son would tolerate being in the same room and considers

my son his friend.  I bribed my son.  I made sure the play dates were highly desirable activities like watching a movie, going to the water park, and going to the lake.  Letting them watch videos worked really well because my son doesn't watch much tv and her son could be round my son without actually interacting with him,  Throw in some popcorn and chips and my friend and I could talk for an hour and twenty minutes.  Gradually, my son came to like my friend's son because he didn't talk during movies and they would jump on the kid's trampoline together.  Two years ago, they both got Nintendo DS and they are great friends.  They sit next to each other playing separately, then they switch games, comment on each other's game tenique and talk about Mario and Sonic.  Not my idea of a friendship, but it works for them.  


Could you find an activity they both enjoy? 

post #10 of 14

 He doesn't really "play" with anything, 


Yes, this is sadly the most common issue.


But I bet he does have certian things he is intrested in. My DD would collect tags off of clothing.


Find something that he likes to collect, to line up, to hold in his hands and bring him some. That should at least get him to interact for a few moments.


Also, avoid playdoh, sand boxes and fingerpaint unless the mum says he likes them. Those are hard on some ASD kids.

post #11 of 14

I have a NT son and a friend who has SN kids. I wanted to encourage a relationship between the kids but I knew I couldn't force it. What has been working so far was being open and honest with my son about how her kids can be different. I find that sometimes it can be the elephant in the room for kids. They know that the other child is not like the other kids but if no one talks about it they may feel confused or uncomfortable. One child we hang out with my son knows from school where he has been aggressive and violent. We I explained to my son that he wasn't being bad he just has impulse control issues and that he is trying and learning and that I will be there and he will be safe Ds was able to show compassion. It helps that they child is much more comfortable and calm at home which allowed my son to see him in a new light which I hope will lead to a greater compassion that he can bring with him to school. My number one rule is that you don't have to play with them but you do have to be nice. For example my son could say I don't feel llike doing whatever I just want to colour now and that would be ok but being mean or ignoring the other kid is def not ok. Good luck. I believe that inclusion doesn't just help those with SN's but that it helps everyone be more compassionate with themselves and others.

post #12 of 14

Have you tried having your ds bring something to play with on his own? We homeschool and many of my friends only have babies/toddlers home during the day so if we visit them, I just have my older kids bring something to occupy themselves if they get bored. I think going to see your friend while your son is in school is a great plan too, if she asks why be honest but I don't think you need to bring it up.


post #13 of 14
Originally Posted by Dukey25 View Post
I find that sometimes it can be the elephant in the room for kids. They know that the other child is not like the other kids but if no one talks about it they may feel confused or uncomfortable. 

I agree. Maybe your son isn't sure what to do. (Though if he's complaining of boredom, just make sure he brings something to do and not expect a playdate out of the situation.) My cousin's daughter has cerebral palsy. It's moderate, I suppose. She has a walker but is definitely mobile on her own. I just explained that to my kids (we live far away so don't see them often) and what J can and can't do, and they're okay with that. I think if I'd just visited without giving them a heads-up, they wouldn't have been sure how to act.

post #14 of 14

one way to explain things is to say that the other boy's brain developed a little differently, and that playing with friends doesn't totally make sense to him. I'd let your son know that it's OK for him to bring his own things and enjoy himself on his own, without pushing the idea of interaction between the kids. If it happens, it happens, but you and your friend can get together and enjoy each other, and your son can be happy building with his lego/watching a DVD/whatever and the other boy can do what works for him. That's really enough.


Honestly, my DD does much better with people who are doing their own things than with people in are in her face attempting her to be different than she is. She really picks up on energies, and if every one else is calm and happy, then it's easier for her to be calm.

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