5 Tips for Successful Playdates with Autistic Children

Establishing and developing friendships is a vital part of children’s development. A great way to encourage this is to set up playdates with other children.  For autistic children, this can sometimes be difficult due to changes in routine, environments, new people, and more. That said, children with autism want to play with others and make friends just as much as their neurotypical peers.

5 Tips for Successful Playdates with Autistic Children

There are steps that parents and caregivers can take to help create successful playdates for their autistic children.  Let’s take a look at these great tips below.

Location is Key

When scheduling time with new friends, the best place to start is within your home. Doing this provides your child with the security of being in their own home surrounded by their belongings. Taking away the unknown of new places helps to reduce any anxiety and new sensory stimuli that can derail the playdate.

Remember to Hydrate

All that running and jumping will run out of some energy but can lead to dehydration if not monitored properly. In general, children do not always recognize when they are thirsty.  Make sure to remind the children to drink water, so they do not forget.

In many areas, tap water can have some unpleasant tastes due to minerals and other things in the water. Installing a Brita reverse osmosis filtration system at home is a great way to ensure having fresh-tasting filtered water.

Playdates Need Structure

A key thing to consider when planning playdates with autistic children is the need for structure and routine. Planning out activities helps to steer the playdate positively and provides the structure needed. 

When planning out the playdate, try to incorporate something physical like swinging or jumping on a trampoline. Afterward, you can then engage in a calmer activity like a puzzle or game and end it with a snack. By structuring out the playdate, you resolve your autistic child.

Plan for Snacks

All that active play will equal some hungry children.  Proper nutrition in children helps balance their energy, level out moods and improves their minds.  That said, it is okay to get creative.  Incorporate snacks that your autistic child loves, even if they do not go together perfectly. 

Keep Playdates Short

When planning a playdate for autistic children, time is an important factor to consider.  Start by scheduling smaller playdates of 45-60 minutes.  As your child gets comfortable with the new friend, you extend the playdates for longer. 

No matter what time you have their playdate scheduled for, always consider how your child is doing.    If they are having a great time, it is absolutely okay to let them play a little longer.  However, if they show signs of being restless, frustrated, or otherwise not enjoying the playdate, it is important to end the playdate at that time.

Successful Playdates with Autistic Children

By keeping your autistic child’s needs in mind, you can help create a successful playdate for them. Having the ability to learn social situations with peers in a safe environment will help them develop the skills to build lifelong friendships.

Alicia Trautwein is an Autism advocate, writer, motivational speaker, and dedicated mom of four. Alicia’s desire to advocate for Autism comes from her own autism diagnosis and that of her three children, niece, and brother. Her life’s mission is to educate on autism acceptance and change the world for future generations of autistic individuals.

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