8 tips for running a successful playdate with your autistic child

So last week I was asked for some advice from one of the families I’m working with who have a 5-year-old boy on the spectrum.

One of his difficulties in school is engaging with the other children. So his parents wanted to know whether I’d advise playdates at home and wanted to know my honest opinion on how useful they actually are for children with autism.

In short, my answer was… if done properly, yes they can be really useful. But as playdates are often something I encourage parents and carers to set up I thought it might be more useful for me to explain why I encourage them and HOW actually to run one.

So here goes…

1. Make sure you pick the right child.

If your child likes to play quietly and calmly then that boisterous bundle of energy child in their class probably isn’t a good match!

2. Prepare your child.

Tell your child when the playdate is happening and perhaps reassure them so they know there are no heavy expectations for them to play together perfectly for the whole hour.

3. Think about your desired outcome.

Think about one thing you’d like to come out of this playdate. By doing this you have one clear thing to encourage during the playdate and you’ll know how successful it’s been by the end.

4. Set up some games.

Think about the toys you’re going to take out. Social games are fab, but this may be too much for your child on their first playdate. Make sure you give a choice of a few activities. Not too much not too little.

5. Set up some structure.

If you think your child would benefit from a “First and Then” type strategy then do this, so they know what games are coming next.

6. Have a snack break.

Give them some downtime where you leave them to have a snack or a drink. Make sure you check dietary needs beforehand!

7. Keep it short.

An hour for the first playdate may be more than enough. Remember this may be intense for your child so don’t put too much pressure on them. Equally, even though it may be tempting and you think it’s going really well, don’t extend it to 2/3 hours as it may quickly become “too much” – keep it short and sweet.

8. Review the playdate.

Make a note of what went well and what not so well. Praise your child for the things they did well. If it was quite difficult, acknowledge how they coped and think about anything you could change for the next time. Don’t rush into organising another playdate – go at your child’s pace.

And for more helpful advice on how to work on social skills, building friendships and engaging with other children join ‘The Unlimited Autism Success Inner Circle’

For more information and to become a member click below

Click here

Speak with you soon until then,

Live every moment, Love beyond words and make a difference today

Emma Ottaway

The Ambitious Autism Ambassador