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  • Writer's pictureChristine McCarty

Play Dates

Play dates are essential for everyone, even us adults. Socializing and engaging with peers is an important part of learning and growing at any age. However, I know play dates can be extremely hard with a special needs child. To be honest, it outright scares me to death!

Why do you ask? It’s hard for me to be around neurotypical children Addy’s age as it’s an in-your-face reminder of Addy’s delays. Right, wrong, or indifferent, I don’t want to be reminded of typical age-appropriate behaviors. Yes, I’ve spoken about how we shouldn’t compare or benchmark, but when it’s in your face, it’s hard not to.

So how do I overcome this? How do I keep my fear at bay most recently scheduling two playdates for Addy in the same week? For starters, I took myself out of the equation. When that wasn’t working, I force myself to get uncomfortable, as I’m sure that’s how Addy feels each day. I remind myself, that this is not about me and my issues, this is about Addy and exposing her to as much normalcy as I can. I am referring to what typical seven-year-olds would be doing – having play dates with their friends.

So, how do you find the right friend and the right environment for a successful play date? For us, we are extremely fortunate to have a wonderful community and friends that support Addy. Many of them understand her needs and often request play dates conducive for her, like a trampoline park or our house. Her friends understand that Addy is just another friend, one that learns and communicates a bit differently. Other parents welcome the idea of exposing their children to the diversity as it teaches their children as much, if not more, than it teaches Addy. For that, I am forever grateful!

One way we meet people and get Addy exposed to more typical child experiences is to enroll her in early-stage sports camps, like soccer. She plays soccer with neurotypical children and has a blast. At times it’s so hard standing on the sidelines telling Addy to standup, watch the ball, etc., but I’ve come to learn all kids have their moments, their issues their breakdowns. Additionally, the other kids on the team will often help Addy which is amazing to see!

My advice? Book the play dates! Schedule ones with both neurotypical and special needs children. Make the connections in your community, through sports, schools, camps as well as therapy.

Finally, I have found the anticipation is worse than the actual experience. I can also say that this has been one of the main reasons why Addy has come so far…being around neurotypical children in “normal” everyday experiences has helped her grow tremendously! So, if you are fearful, take it from me and try it! You never know what is possible until you try!

Looking for more? Checkout my listing of activities for special needs kids.

Much love,

Raising Addy

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