So the time has come, it’s the moment you have been waiting for, your child is ready for some peer interaction…their first play date!!! (Or “hang out session” if your child is older.)

Let’s talk about how to go about arranging this. First of all, get your thinking cap on and start to brainstorm with your spouse, partner or a support person you may have in your life, who would be a good match for a play date with your child. You want this child to be an easy going, relaxed individual who doesn’t seem to have any notable flexibility issues themselves and sweet and caring. This could be a neighbor, a friends child, a sibling of a child your other children know), etc. I’m sure you can think of someone. This child would ideally be within a similar maturity level to your child. For example, if your child is 6, it would be ok to go for someone who is 4 or 5. There is no need to tell this child all the details about your own child’s challenges or diagnosis, you want this child to be themselves and not be thinking about what to do or how to be. The idea is to get a sense of how your child shows up with them and assess if this is a logical next step for them.

Once you have someone in mind, ask their parents if they would like to come over and play. Feel free to share with their parents about your program and how it’s exciting to be introducing your child to peer play.

Think of an activity that you could set them up with that will be motivating for your child and also has an element of working together as a team. For example, creating or building something together, an age appropriate board game, a fun sports game, etc. This first session will be more coordinated and structured than the ones in the future, because it will help them both to have something to come back to if things get at all challenging or lack focus.

Be prepared to observe or even video the session (in or out of the playroom is fine). You do want to transition to out of the playroom eventually.

With love,

Becky Damgaard
Son-Rise Program® Teacher
Autism Treatment Center of America