Monday, January 17, 2011

Play Date a Great Time for Parents, Too

It is very unusual for us to go over to friends’ houses so we really enjoyed our visit with A & J on Saturday evening.

A & J have two boys on the spectrum. My wife and I are in awe that they can keep things so together when we have such difficulty with just our one son. But, it’s not like they are Super Nanny or anything like that. They are regular folks who are struggling with the same, or in some cases, even more challenging issues than we are.

It is great to go there with Kai because we know they “get it.” We never feel self conscious about Kai’s behavior, and we feel comfortable knowing that their home has been “autism-proofed” for their kids.

But, mostly, it is just nice to spend time with good folks who share a common bond.

Their younger son, Timothy, is a year younger than Kai, but they could be twins in terms of their shared passion for numbers and letters. When Kai and Timothy were younger and each doing home therapy, our mutual therapist, Rochelle, suggested play dates for the two boys. We got the boys together, and Rochelle did a good job of facilitating some activities. But, at that time, most of whatever playing they did was in parallel, with little real interaction between the two.

With both kids now in school all day, busy therapy schedules, and the distance between our houses, Kai hasn’t been over to Timothy’s house in about a year. We were curious to see how they would play with each other now.

When we arrived, Timothy greeted us at the door. We knew that Kai was looking forward to the play date, and it was obvious that Timothy was also very happy. His parents said that he had been excited all day about Kai coming over.

They immediately went to the basement together. They started by jumping on the big trampoline. Of course, they had to throw some letters and numbers on it, and bounced along all together. Soon, they were on to other activities. I was amazed to see the amount of real interaction they had. They chased each other around, brought each other toys, and talked to each other. Frankly, I couldn’t understand a lot of what they were saying, and their play, such as it was, was more silliness than anything organized. But, they understood each other, and it was great to see them laughing and having fun.

I was thrilled to see our son actually enjoying playing with another child, rather than just playing with me or Mom. My wife and I were encouraged by the amount of interaction. Wow, he really is learning how to play with another child.

The bonus of all this is that, with the kids occupying themselves so nicely, we parents had some time to enjoy each other’s company as well. A delicious meal, good conversation, shared bond, and even some relaxing moments; we couldn’t have hoped for a better time.

For some parents, this kind of evening must seem pretty routine. But, for us, this was a very special treat.

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