Parallel Play

Today’s my last day on my business trip – it’ll be good to get back home so I can play with the kids.

But on that topic.  While I’ve been away, my wife arranged for a playdate for the Monster to entertain him, seeing as this is the gap week between school and camp.  Two children his own age came over to play, while she was social with their mother.

The Monster’s at the age where he really ought to be playing with other children, and it’s frustrating to see how he doesn’t seem to grasp the concept.  When we take him to the playground, or have him at a playdate with other children his own age, he doesn’t really acknowledge that the other kids exist.  He does move in a way to avoid collisions and the like – he’s not by any means a danger to other kids – but he doesn’t initiate play with children, content to do his own thing with his own set of toys.  And he’s good about sharing – about fifty percent of the time, he’ll ask for his turn with a toy used by another, and when another child wants the toy, he’ll relinquish it a bit more frequently.

On the other hand, he loves to play with older kids and familiar adults.  He’ll happily engage in playing tag (mostly since it involves running around) so long as he’s not the one trying to do the tagging, and seems to react well to folks making up simple games with him.  It’s not really full-featured play, though – he’s more being reactive than collaborative.  It’s also one of those things that we can only give pushes on, rather than modeling the behavior, by structuring activities so that he has more interactions with kids his age that might lead to play.

We’re working on the collaboration – it’s one of his goals in his IEP for next year – but it’s one of those things that frustrates me…

3 thoughts on “Parallel Play

  1. During these playdates, have you guys tried to sit down with him and model play with the other kids? Social interaction is such a crucial piece that is missing and if he doesn’t have it modeled constantly it’s hard to make it stick. I don’t know what he likes playing, but something I like to use during therapy are simple games that require turn taking, so that I can model phrases (e.g. my turn, your turn, I got red, I got two) and the kids have to have some kind of interaction. I know it detracts from your socialization time, and I knw it makes it feel like you are playing therapist, but maybe he’ll start to get the hang of it after a whie. Always rooting for you guys.

    • Definitely a valid point – I’m not usually home during the play dates, but it’s something I can suggest to the wife when she’s overseeing these things. When we’re home alone with him, I definitely try to model with him… just difficult to find games he seems to grasp enough to do the modeling with. (He’s not quite up to Candyland yet…)

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