Playdates for Special Needs: How to Host a Successful Playdate
Days off school are a great time for kids to get together with their friends. Playdates can help your child build and maintain friendships and be fun for everyone. Having a game plan ahead of time can help you and your child feel confident in social situations. We’ve come up with several ways to set your child up for success:
Have your child participate in the planning of activities. This allows them to pick something they will look forward to and they will be more vested in the playdate.
Have your child ask his or her friend 2 questions and report the answers back to you after the playdate. If your child is having difficulties coming up with questions you can help them along (example: “Why don’t you ask your friend if they like dogs or cats better? What is their favorite subject?”) This is a great way to encourage your child to have reciprocal interactions. We want them to learn to ask a question, listen to the answer and be able to remember the answer.
Playdates should last between 30 minutes and 2 hours. If it’s your child’s first playdate with a new friend, keep it short (i.e. 30 minutes – 1 hour). Kids have a limit for how long they’re able to manage themselves and going over that time can cause problems.
Start with a small group so your child can have 1 on 1 interaction. Once they have successful playdates with one friend you can add more children.
Always have a good exit strategy. If the playdate is going poorly, have an excuse to cut it short prepared ahead of time. Good exit strategies include having to leave to pick up a family member, dropping off a needed item at someone else’s home or running out to get an important item from the store.
And don’t forget that the Game Nights and Conversations are a great way to practice social skills at home!