In a perfect world, we want to give our children with special needs the most natural social inclusive environment as possible, but our new world is anything but natural nor normal. Most likely, we are going to be on lockdown for a few months. Unlike their neurotypical peers, who are already hanging out with friends via gaming apps or virtual hangouts such as, Snapchat, your child may need a little support and guidance. Video playdates will be one way to make things exciting and social for your child and it will help with practicing conversations.
First step, contact your child’s classmate’s parents to arrange video chat “Playdate.” Most likely other parents are also looking for fun activities to break away from the cabin fever. Contact parents that already understand your child’s challenges and children that your child had formed a relationship with. Make your plan simple and straight to the point, see example below.
I hope everyone is safe and finding ways to stay active. We are finally beginning to get settled with the social distancing changes. I wanted to start a fun video chat/playdates for the kids. We can use Zoom, Skype, FACETIME, whichever one you have. We just have to plan ahead and make sure we all have similar games and snacks at our homes. Maybe, on the first playdate we can play BINGO, I Spy and then have snacks together just to keep it simple. I have the following days and times as a possibility, but if none of the days or times work, we are flexible, just send 3 alternative dates and times. Thanks”
Once you have received confirmations, send your playdate details 3 days before the actual date. This allows parents to plan and be sure to prepare their child. The day before the playdate, send a polite text with simple ground rules so parents know what is expected of them. Remind parents, that the first hangout may not turn out that great , but it will get better. Be sure to mention that they have to give the children time to think and warm up to the idea and parents should not intervene unless necessary. Send a thank you note after the playdate.
Games I have played with my clients on Zoom
Bingo (not every person will have two IPADS or Printer) so get creative
- Have each parent send you a list of items they have at home
- When you call out the item, the child goes and brings it and shows the item to everyone
- The first person to show it gets a point
- The person with 3 or 6 items (collected first) is the winner
- Have a child walk to a busy area with the camera and another child looks and, says “I spy…,” the person holding the camera cannot turn, but will have to rely on the description from the other player
- Next the winner also walks to a busy area in their house and the other child says, “I spy… and has to describe until the other child guesses.
Interactive Apps to use for Turn-Taking https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.budgestudios.StrawberryShortcakeBakeShare&hl=en_US,
This app is especially fun for giving directions and also having the child give you directions. The children will have opportunity to also practice sequencing with peers.
- Keep it fun and entertaining
- Some children will not want to stay on the camera too long, so make it quick until they adapt
- Invite your children’s friend (not more than 1-2 kids total)
About the Author: Uduak (Udie) Osom, was one of those students who entered college searching for her calling. In 1990, she discovered that her passion was in helping others. As the saying goes, “The rest is history.” In 1992, Udie graduated with her bachelor’s degree in communication disorders and science. In 1997, she received her Master’s degree in communication disorders and science from San Jose State University. She has more than 20 years of experience working with children with various disabilities. Udie is very passionate about neuro-developmental disabilities and social-cognitive disabilities. In 2000, she developed a social skills program that pairs typical developing students with students diagnosed with social cognitive disabilities (Autism, Pragmatic Language, ADD etc). She went on to develop a secondary program “All for 3’s.” Her other specialty is Pediatric Feeding Disorder, emphasis in premature babies and kids. Udie has worked as a consultant for several schools, conducted numerous workshops for schools, written and published articles. Visit Innovative Therapy Services to Learn About Our Programs