So anyway, the first playdate was with a boy, A, who is in the grade level between Herbie and Owl, so that works out nicely. He is by all appearances a typical kid, and very accepting of others. He doesn't seem to worry much about the different ways that my kids play or Herbie's outbursts and meltdowns. His mom is great to talk to and we have a lot of fun. The whole playdate, though, takes a lot of energy in terms of helping the kids play together and take turns, explaining to Herbie that he doesn't get to make all the rules, that some of the rules he makes are just not going to work, etc. Herbie never talks directly to A, but will convey his thoughts to me or to A's mom. Basically a lot of intervention is needed, but we make it through the playdate and the kids are so happy their friend came over.
The second playdate was with twin boys who are in kindergarten, one is on the spectrum and the other is not. This playdate was night and day from the first. The boys arrive and rush into the house, yelling to Herbie and Owl that they want to play in the basement. Owl is way too slow to keep up with them as they run from the basement to the main level to the upstairs bedroom, repeat, repeat, repeat. They gather the toys and accessories they want to use for some made-up game, they laugh as they agree on the rules, and look at each other and talk about the progress of the game! The game involves lots of throwing plastic balls and other somewhat soft items at each other while they jump off of the cabinets in the basement. (Yes, I let them jump off of the shelf on top of the built-in cupboards....it's too hard to stop them and they need their exercise, right?) Their mom smiles and is not bothered by my lack of rules (or if she is, she does a great job hiding it from me).
Somehow with these twin boys, Herbie is totally at ease and willing to allow others to make up rules for games. I have never seen him like this with any other child. The closest we've come is with A, where he will painfully agree to modify his rules because he does truly want to play with his friend. Most other kids aren't worth the effort in his opinion. So I'm wondering how it is that Herbie is SO at ease with the twins. It's fun to watch them laughing hysterically and not needing much help at all, just some reminders not to throw the blocks or legos. How can I help him to generalize this skill to other children? For now, I'm savoring the memory of him laughing and engaging in actual conversation with other children. This week is going well!