Brief background info: My DS is almost 3 and has a mild ASD- he is verbal (very echolalic but capable of original and spontaneous language), affectionate and pretty bright. The vast majority of his therapy takes place at home with me.
So I've been doing floortime with my son for some time now and I've found that this has vastly improved his communication skills. I think I've been focusing on his language and communication in everything I do with him as this has been my greatest concern and obviously the issue that makes the most difference for us at home. However, in putting so much focus on this I think I've neglected another important component and now that DS will start preschool in September I'm kind of panicking about his social and play skills.
So lately I've been trying to switch gears and focus on imaginative play and generally learning HOW to play with the many, many toys we have that DS loves to fiddle with but doesn't properly play with, as well as work on skills and language that will help him facilitate play with the other kids. DS does go to playgroup and to a gymnastics class that is "play based" and we go to the playground all the time- but he doesn't really play with the other kids. Up till now I thought it was beneficial for him to just BE at these things and around other kids and that he might pick up things being around them or be motivated to try playing with them. But no such luck.
I do know that in kids with ASD these things do have to be taught... but I'm really struggling with how to do this. I really want to give him the best possible start at preschool- it's not a special ed preschool or anything. As far as I know he will be the only kid with ASD. It is a teaching preschool (attached to a university, the teachers are highly educated professionals who also teach early education and the uni students are assistants in the classes) so they are happy to have DS and work with his us as a learning experience for their students. It's not ideal but it's the absolute best we could find for DS here.
I'm looking for any ideas or resources that will lead me in the right direction. How do I teach him to PLAY with things and with other kids? I try to model how to play with his toys but that rarely holds his interest. We don't really have close friends/kids for him to "practice" with in a controlled setting here.
His social skills need work too- he often gets way too close to other kids and is inappropriate with touching etc. and he hasn't yet learned how to great them or initiate interaction etc. I'm getting a social stories picture book and hoping to practice this this summer.
All this social stuff seems so overwhelming as for the longest time I was focusing on language and communication. I thought THAT was difficult... but I'm actually a language teacher so maybe I had an easier time with it. This social skills and play stuff is really throwing me for a loop and I just don't know where to start or what to do. And I'm only just realising now that these will be the hardest things for DS to get a handle on as he grows up. (I know, DUH...) I need to get a move on it.
Also...any other tips for getting DS ready for preschool? What did you find really helped your little ones as they started out in the real world??? It's so scary...
Thanks as always...
ETA: anyone know of a social skills book or video for preschool aged kids? Most I've found are for older kids... Jed Baker etc...
Edited by expat-mama - 6/9/13 at 2:09am