As springtime comes around the corner, many parents around the country are gearing up for an entire week of activities, lunch dates, and relaxation. For families of children with autism, putting together the perfect spring break requires structure and thoughtful planning.
If one of those days includes a playdate, it’s essential to practice play and consider our helpful tips for planning a playdate for a child with autism to ensure the experience is positive. By planning a playdate, your child can use their social skills and create friendships with their peers.
Practice all possible scenarios
Practice play is one of the major keys to mastering socialization skills. Through practice, your child will learn how to share, politely tell others they don’t want to play, and introduce themselves to other kids on the playground. This will help them build confidence and prepare for any scenario.
Plan a structured playdate
An itinerary is the best way to plan a playdate for a child with autism. Children with autism like familiarity and structure. Planning a playdate in a familiar setting, like your home or at their favorite park, is perfect for ensuring a more positive experience. There are plenty of activities that are sensory-friendly for children with autism, like creating arts and crafts or going on a scavenger hunt. Scheduling times for activities, snack breaks, and downtime is the best way to ensure the playdate succeeds.
Keep the playdate short
As parents, we may overestimate how long our children want to do one activity or stay in the same room. You should shoot for about 30 minutes to an hour for the first playdate. As their friendship grows and your child becomes more comfortable, you and the other parents can plan longer play times. The key to having a positive experience is keeping the playdate long enough for bonds to form but short enough to prevent your child from becoming overwhelmed.
Be social with other parents
Your child shouldn’t be the only one putting their social skills to the test. You can’t expect your child to explore new friendships if you don’t leave your comfort zone and engage with other parents! To help your child navigate social situations, it’s best to start socializing with parents in your neighborhood, your child’s school, and their therapy center.