19 answers

Asperger Daughter, No Play Dates!

Hello,
My 8 year old daughter has Apserger's. This is not known to the parents of kids in her class, as we are new to the area. She has her personality quirks (obviously), and I'm finding it hard to get playdates. She hasn't been invited to any birthday parties or had friends come over. I'm a full time working mom and don't get to spend time in her classroom like most of the other moms. I'm worried that the other moms that volunteer in the class see her behavior and don't want their kids to socialize with my daughter. How do I overcome this?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Can you talk with her teacher about classmates who may be good people to invite over for a play date? Sometimes it is hard to break into social circles as a new person, even for kids.

What about getting her involved in other activities, especially those with kids of differing ages? A friend's son has Asperger's and he's in an afterschool program and seems to have found some friends there who are a year or two younger than him. While they're not intellectually compatible, they're socially compatible (I've seen them playing together and having fun).

You may also choose to talk with you daughter's school counselor, social worker, or psychologist as there are lots of things schools can do to help new students or students with special needs to get socially connected with peers. Good luck.

More Answers

My friend's daughter has a girl in her class with a very unusual syndrome that makes her behave differently at times. Her mother sent a letter at the beginning of the year to all the other mothers explaining. I know my friend appreciated it and it's made her very understanding, accomodating etc. You can't force anyone to come to your house but you definitely need to offer to host the other kids. After explaining to the other parents, maybe have a Valentine's Day party at your house? Organize something and hopefully some people will come. Then see how your daughter interacts, if there are any kids who seem friendly to her etc and then pursue playdates with those kids. I go to my daughter's class to volunteer some and then see which kids seem most interested in my daughter and then follow-up with her to see if she's interested and if so, then I call the mom for a playdate. Since you can't do that, a party or some kind of function may be the only way to gain exposure. Also, it takes lots of kids awhile to make new friends in a new school!

4 moms found this helpful

I'm hesitating about responding to this question, b/c it hits home in an unusual way.

First, great advice so far about educating the class and definitely you need to be proactive and invite a girlfriend over for your daughter. Ask your daughter who she likes, who she has played with and start there. If you can't bribe a name out of her, then contact her teacher and ask for recommendations and if she has noticed anyone in particular your daughter has happily spent more time with. You'll probably have to try a few playdates before you find the right fit. Working full time does not help your situation, as it does not allow you to readily connect with the other moms who are in and out of the class. As I would only allow my 8 yr. old daughter to go to s/o else's home whom I have seen on a regular basis.

Here is the difficult part, there are going to be natural consequences to your daughters personality quirks. And I say this from sad personal experience.

I have the friendliest, most non-judgemental children in the world. I've had a mom call them 'little Switzerlands' because they get along with everyone.

So, the sad history....one mom whose son has severe ADHD, continually invited my son over, b/c I felt that playtime is just that, playtime. And I knew that her son was better behaved around my son. I allowed this go on for a couple of years, but when it came time for my son's birthday party, we decided not to invite the ADHD boy. We had invited him to prior playdates and a birthday party, but my son honestly confided in me that this boy was very possessive of him in group settings. So, fine, we'll keep that a one on one friendship. We sent the invitations out and that mom had the audacity to come knocking on my door, upset that her son had not been invited to my son's 10th birthday party. Really. IAM NOT Kidding. She had expected more from me. I was honest with her and told her the above, that her son is extremely possessive of my son in group settings and I was not about to ask my 10 year old to manage that kind of behavior at his Laser Tag birthday party with all those kids running around wild. And on top of it all, she thought she had been doing me a favor by having my son over...go figure. Needless to say, that relationship is kaput. On one level, if this had been a family member, or truly close friend, I would ask my son to suck it up and learn to deal with it. But this was not, this was a friend from school.

The lesson to be learned, is that you will eventually find a friend for your daughter, but you will have to invest time into making it happen. You'll have to continue to educate parents and peers, but please be respectful of their final decision as to include her in group settings.

2 moms found this helpful

Ohhhh this makes me want to cry...I am so sorry to hear that. I think your DD's class needs to be educated on her condition. I'll be she is a wonderful child and while she may have some challenges I think the other parents being brought into the loop can help educate their kids so they can be more inclusive. Ignorance isn't bliss in this situation. Talk to her teacher about your concerns and see how she can help so the other kids can help rather than leave her out.

2 moms found this helpful

Maybe you should do some inviting? I wouldn't worry to much about the reasons why they would not invite her just yet. It may be that since you don't get to spend as much time in the classroom like other moms they don't know you as well? If that doesn't work maybe you can reach out and find others moms in your area who are dealing with some of the same personality quirks that you know would be more patient and understanding. But I think you may make yourself feel worse if you make assumptions about why she is not getting as many invites, though. The reason may not be what you think. Maybe her teacher would have some insight to how she gets along with kids in the class and can offer you some advice about who her closest friends might be or how to get started?

2 moms found this helpful

Why don't you host a party and invite kids from the class? Perhaps its as simple as your the newbies and they don't have your phone #, email, etc. The party doesn't have to be for a reason other than getting friends together.

M.

1 mom found this helpful

MY daughter is 10 and she is undiagnosed because we did not pursue a diagnosis. She has many quirks as well, she does not socialize well with children her own age, but she does wonderful with children who are younger than her. I would not force the issue. Find an age appropriate story hour that your daughter might enjoy. Invite some kids over to your house for some structured playdates ( have planned activities) enroll her in girl scouts and plan on volunteering and attending...but the only part of M.K's response I agree with is basically all kids are different...and if your daughter is not unhappy and does not want to be as social don't force the issue, but if she is unhappy then pursue some of my suggestions= ) You might look into a support group so you could get together and talk with other moms who have children with special needs.
Not every child needs a ton of friends, my daughter is used to having only one close friend.
Also one last suggestion...church is an awesome place for kids to get together socially with like aged grouped kids youth programs.
Good luck to you and your daughter.
B.

1 mom found this helpful

Why not either make her disorder known or search for moms in your area with children of similar issues. Many times it is a matter of people don't understand because they don't know.

In any event, people can be hard and she will
come across that from time to time, we all do. There is someone out there for everyone and soon enough she will pick up her friend that will appreciate her for who she is.

Best wishes.

1 mom found this helpful

I have a daughter with Asperger's as well. In elementary school, she had no playdates and wasn't invited to parties unless the whole class was. We started social skills group therapy in 3rd grade and it did help enormously with her ability to work with peers in the classroom, but still no 1:1 friendships. She attended a middle school for kids with learning issues and did develop several friendships there among other kids like her. Now in high school (she's 15 and in 10th grade) she still has no one she speaks to outside of school, but has made some in-school friends that she sits with at lunch. We consider that a big accomplishment. I also host a support group in Denver for parents of kids like ours, and we all have had similar experiences.
Does she have an IEP? if yes, are there social-emotional goals on the IEP to help her with developing peer relationships? This is very important to have.

1 mom found this helpful

I don't have any further advice, the others have done great. I agree with you trying some inviting. Can't hurt, right?

My now 18 year old nephew, who we are very close to, was diagnosed finally in early elementary school..and remember, as I said, he is 18 now. He has always been raised by my In Laws, and he is not quite 2 years older than my daughter, so we have always done alot together, so the kids are pretty close cousins. My nephew REALLY looks up to my husband.

When he was young, I, as a child care professional, knew there were quirks and things going on, but my inlaws refused to admit it..they were old school and all that. Once he was in school, there was no denying the social issues, however. He is extremely bright (maintains a 4.0 GPA..will graduate in May..Math and Science are simply beyond easy for him..altho he struggles in Language arts and Literature and anything more creative, all textbook Aspergers). He has found a few good friends over the years...a few that have stuck with him. I have used him for my college assignments (case study type things and reference stuff) on Aspergers.

If you Do decide to attempt to explain to other children her Aspergers...I have a GREAT book, if you have never heard of it. Its the BEST book for helping people, especially other children, understand, that I found. Its called "All cats have Aspergers Syndrome too"
http://www.amazon.com/All-Cats-Have-Asperger-Syndrome/dp/....
I highly recommend it!

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Hello. Here most kids only do playdates around their extracurriculars. I usually do all the hosting and planning. I sometimes even pick the kids up to make it easier on the other mom.

My best friend's three daughters all have aspergers. The youngest is also 8. I would keep it private about her diagnosis. My friend tells everyone and asks other parents to read up about it so they and their kids can understand and help her children. It scares people off.

Many people seem to want to avoid her and many claim she is using it as an excuse for her kids' bad behavior. My friend will start off by apologizing and saying her child's behavior was wrong, but then she is quick to blame others for making her child feel frustrated that she acted out. "She was wrong, but your child told her no and she couldn't understand why. Next time maybe you can get your child to better explain it and to listen to her reasons why she wants your child to do something." No means no, especially when the request was to do something against the rules. No explanation is needed and I teach my child to walk away from bad situations.

Two moms felt they needed to talk to me when she noticed my child was spending time with the girl. They warned me that the other girl would get my child into trouble and how mean she was to other kids. They told me stories. The girl with asp. brags about how she gets the other girls to pull tags at school and laughs that they get into trouble. Getting into trouble at school is not something I want encouraged. When I told my friend what they had said, she laughed about it. That was perhaps nervous laughter, but she should have said "I agree getting into trouble is not acceptable and I am going to try and make my child understand this."

I know that I had total patience with the girl until she yelled at me, told me off, and stormed off. I was outraged and didn't ever want to see her again. I understood what the other moms were saying. I later found out that her oldest sister had just that day told off a teacher at school twice and she heard all about it. Perhaps she was copying what she heard about(they are in different schools), but it is still totally inappropriate behavior. After I calmed down, we got together and we talked. By this time, the mom had a long list of reasons her child had "lost it" that day and the child told me she didn't do anything wrong. The dad has told her she is enabling and helping worsen the problem and so has the doctor, so she switched doctors.

Most moms want to avoid any difficulties. Several children were not invited to the latest slumber party because we "overprotective" moms would not allow them to stay all night. We were going to pick them up at 9 or 10. The mom didn't want the other kids wanting to call or go home so we were uninvited. We did our own party until 10 so the girls would not be so hurt.
We resisted the urge to talk about that mom or to confront her. We have to learn to get along with others, even when they are unjust or unfair. All the girls at this age have to learn social skills.

Can you arrange one on one playdates? Perhaps do one from 10-12 on Saturday morning and other on Sunday say from 1-3? If it goes well, keep inviting the same girls back individually. The teacher might know which girls would be open to friendships and which you should not ask(they can't tell you why, but they can tell you who would be best).

As the parent of a child with ADHD, I can tell you parents absolutely do discriminate against special needs kids. My son in preschool was invited to a grand total of ONE birthday party and that was only because the girl invited everyone in the class. Our son had an overly candid teacher who would tell me how others reacted around him. One mom apparently said openly in front of our son, "What is wrong with that boy?" Nice.

Now that our son is being treated, he blends in much more now in 2nd grade. However, when he does get invited on playdates, I am very open about his condition just in case. The more people are aware that there's a valid reason for a child's behavior, the less intimidated or judgmental I've found them to be. He has a lot of friends now.

I would consider planning a special event, such as a cookie decorating party or ice cream sundae party. You could phrase the invite something along the lines of, "We're new to the area and would love to get to know the wonderful kids in Daughter's class. Please come over for a fun afternoon of ..."

If you want to mention the Asperger's, you could do that when parents call to RSVP. The approach I take is usually along the lines of, "You may have noticed our son's behavior is sometimes a little different than other kids. This is because he has ADHD. If you or your child ever has any questions or concerns about it, please feel free to talk to us. We're happy to talk about the condition."

Best of luck to you! I hope she's able to make some good friends in her new school.

My older son has had a couple of children in his preschool class who had social interaction challenges. Some were more shy or less verbal or interactive while some were quite hyper or even sorta mean. It's been very interesting to watch over the years and what I've seen is that even by 4-5 years old, kids sometimes just don't like some other kids. It doesn't need to be Aspergers or any other condition. It's just commonality. And at this early age, it should be the child's choice if they want to include any friend at a party. It's a party for them and their friends. I had a child tell me that a certain other child "didn't have any friends because they were never nice to anyone". It's hard to then explain why they should want to play with that child other than trying to explain that they should be patient.
While I agree with the other posts that I think it will help the other parents understand your daughter more if they know of her Asperger's diagnosis, I also agree that you may need to set your expectations about what her "social life" will really be like. She may actually not miss big parties or anything else that maybe feel important to you. Try various avenues like inviting parents/kids over, joining a club like soccer or gymnastics and see what sticks. Good luck.

Can you talk with her teacher about classmates who may be good people to invite over for a play date? Sometimes it is hard to break into social circles as a new person, even for kids.

What about getting her involved in other activities, especially those with kids of differing ages? A friend's son has Asperger's and he's in an afterschool program and seems to have found some friends there who are a year or two younger than him. While they're not intellectually compatible, they're socially compatible (I've seen them playing together and having fun).

You may also choose to talk with you daughter's school counselor, social worker, or psychologist as there are lots of things schools can do to help new students or students with special needs to get socially connected with peers. Good luck.

You could try having a little party at your house or try to get a phone list from the teacher and call parents individually and let them know your daughter's situation and try to schedule a play date. They may feel differently if they know there is a medical reason for her behavior and they can explain that to their children. I have a granddaughter who has emotional disabilities and it is very hard for her to get along with her peers. She has no friends at school or playdates. But, my other grandchildren, knowing that she has these disabilities and her behavior is a symptom of those disabilities, make a lot of allowances for her. I bet some of the kids in your daughter's class would do the same if they knew the story.

Your last question is likely the key. How do YOU overcome this. I have a child who exhibits many asperger symptoms and he does just fine. Having a ton of friends may not be important to your daughter. Is she concerned about not having play dates or going to birthday parties? If she is not than, you should not loose sleep over it either. If you are having a hard time getting play dates and are new to the area, it could just be that the other parents just don't know you. Not that they have any preconceived notion about your child. Being a parent is a tough job, as there are no rule books to go by. Perhaps, try to attend a school party, volunteer for a "special thing" at school or attend a pta meeting. I know you work full time but could you maybe take an afternoon early to do some of the school functions? Maybe send a few of the kids an invite (with parent attendance) to meet at a local "kids fun place" on the weekend. That way your daughter will have the play date and it will give you and opportunity to meet some of the other parents. The more familiar people become with you the better you will feel. Give it time and hopefully you will feel more at ease. Your heart is in the right place, looking out for your child. Good Luck

You may want to try enrolling her in a community activity with lots of adult supervision and structure- maybe gymnastics, sports, craft club, library club or a music class. Have a chat with the instructor/coach and let them know what your daughter's quirks are.

I'm hoping that the reason your daughter hasn't had any party invites is b/c people tend to shy away from parties around the holidays. However, truthfully some kids are just rude and exclusive.

Ask your daughter's teacher if there is a child she plays with in school and then reach out to that parent. Invite the other child to your home (along with mom depending on their comfort level) and have activities planned- bake cookies, decorate aprons, make crafts. Find things for the two of them to do that will allow you to participate/facilitate without making it obvious that you are there monitoring.

I khow the feeing of being a full-time working mom and feeling that you are not there for your kids. My son does not have Aspergers but I feel that any parent who could judge a child in that way needs some professional help.
maybe it's possible that you could get one day per month off from work to volunteer at your daughters school. I usually take at least one sick day per month or even a half day twice a month to spend sometime in my son's kindergartin class.
The first time I had gone to his class I noticed that my son was sort of withdrawn and quiet in class which is not his personality at all. I was their to sort of encourage him and prompt him to get more involed in the classroom activites. I also read that young kids feel special when their parents come to school. I don't know if this is true or not. May depend on the kid.
Even if you are not able to do this maybe joining your local "Y" would be an idea as they always have activities for kids her age outside of the pressure and clicks that go along with school.

Hello,
My daughter is involved in Youth Theater and there is a young man that participates who has Asperger's. He loves being on stage and never forgets his lines. The teachers are very supportive and the kids treat him just like any other kid in the group. If you think your daughte might enjoy this kind of activity (if the stage frightens her she can always start with classes) you may want to look into your local youth theater for classes and performance options.

Below is some information from the Aspergers group at Parents Helping Parents. You might already know about them. Its a great organization.

SInce you work, does your daughter go to the after school day care program at her school? If so, you could focus on the social activities there. Lunch and recess time are often the most challenging times. Does the school have some organized activies then like a running program where they run/walk laps. She could volunteer to help out.

Organize some play dates on the weekends. Get her into sports like softball/basketball/soccer.

I think sometimes parents read to much into the playdate/socialization thing. They are more concerned about being invited to birthday parties than the kids are. My daughter had a lot more people come to her birthday parties than she was invited to but we never made a big deal about that. She's a very independent person. Now as a HS senior, she is a well respected girl and has mutiple groups of friends.

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