One thing that I think all parents of children with special needs worry about is whether or not their child will make friends.
Now, don’t get me wrong – the Monster loves other children. He likes being around other people, and when the other person is someone familiar, he definitely seems interested in at least saying hi or whatnot… even if he’s not really hot at playing with another person. But… playdates are few and far between, because his social skills are so behind the curve.
So imagine our shock when we got a note from another parent, via the camp, asking for a playdate with him.
The Monster is in an inclusion setting at camp – he has a 2-on-1 with another special needs camper, because he’s not that much of a handful himself. He might be mostly non-verbal, but he’s compliant and usually a good kid, and it makes sense on that note to maximize camp resources by having a second child with him. That said, we don’t know much of what’s going on, aside from the notes home from his counselors – he’s not good at narrative detail, and while he can tell us that he “played” at camp (literally, “We… played!” or guided discussion of what went on during the day based on the notes we get home), he isn’t really good at filling in details of what he played, or with whom.
And then this note appeared, from the parents of the other camper with special needs in his bunk:
To [Monster’s] parents
Our son [name redacted] has expressed an interest in having [Monster] over for a playdate sometime soon. Here is our contact info:
We would love to have [Monster] over!
I’m… shocked, actually. Aside from the fact that this is probably the first time ever that a child’s asked to have the Monster over for a playdate… I don’t even have any idea how that would work, if it would work out. If it’d be the two children engaging in parallel play or if it’d be a frustrating experience for the other child, since we’ve no idea how the two of them interact at camp.
And yet, I have to admit that we’re leaning towards actually going through with it, because we have to try at some point to get him to be social. We’re in the midst of ABA, where the therapist is working on game-playing and cooperative turn-taking – it’s a lot of Jenga and Uno at the moment – so there’s clearly something we can guide them into playing if the other child is interested… but there’s the aspect of nothing-ventured-nothing-gained here, mingled with my own trepidation about this going horribly, horribly wrong and having another set of parents wonder why they bothered trying.
It’s always something terrifying and new with this job…