Friendship is a wonderful gift and enriches our lives. There is nothing better than seeing your child enjoying being with their friends. However, a child with additional needs may sometimes find it hard to make and continue their friendships.

This is an area that I struggled with throughout David’s life and to a point, still do.

I noticed how it could be hard for David to communicate with children his own age as he was growing up. He found it hard to play or just couldn’t and with his speech/hearing loss it was quite difficult. Grownups found it difficult sometimes to make the time to listen to him and I can only imagine how hard it was for children. And as most of you know David loves to talk and loves to socialise.

In school, the teachers and helpers tried to encourage this and I also asked a physiologist for help.

A few tips that worked are as follows:

  • Ask his/her helper in school to see who he is trying to befriend and try to meet with that child’s parent at the school gate and set up a playdate.
  • See if your child is making an effort to include friends, help them say the right words to encourage friendships. (Roleplay)
  • Always ask two children for a playdate as “one” child may feel it could be challenging for them.
  • Bring your child with you as much as you can, shopping, coffee mornings, etc. If your friends have children then this is an idea time to introduce the children.
  • Surround your child with children when you can so maybe let your child in crèche when you go shopping for a few hours.
  • If you live in an estate let your child go out and meet the other children (don’t be afraid)
  • If this is too much then ask the children into your backgarden to play so you can watch your child and encourage them to play.
  • Let your child go to their friend’s house without you. (Just explain a little regarding your child’s condition as not to frighten the other parents, like I did!)
  • Ask cousins out on play dates and to your house also. Make sure they are included in all parties.
  • Let your child join clubs with other children that have similar abilities.
  • Join parents groups yourself so you will see what other children are doing and what is available to you, you will feel better for it.

It can be challenging for you and your child, just keep encourages your child every step of the way. When your child moves on to secondary school or you move home, try and keep up the relationships your child has already developed.

Until next time