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Oct
08

One Woman Creates A Way For ASD Kids To Connect

special playdate

By Jane Reddig, Special Playdate founder

Every parent with a child who has special needs knows the challenges of trying to schedule play dates with other children. And it’s a double-edged sword, to be certain. For while the need to practice social interaction and to develop friendships for the child is high, the anxiety level (particularly for the parent) is often higher still. Parents need the comfort of knowing that their child will not be teased by his or her “play date” and that the other parent will also understand their child’s unique behaviors. What is needed is a way for parents with children on the spectrum to be able to find and schedule safe, rewarding social encounters. 

special playdate

Every parent with a child who has special needs knows the challenges of trying to schedule play dates with other children. And it's a double-edged sword, to be certain. For while the need to practice social interaction and to develop friendships for the child is high, the anxiety level (particularly for the parent) is often higher still. Parents need the comfort of knowing that their child will not be teased by his or her "play date" and that the other parent will also understand their child's unique behaviors. What is needed is a way for parents with children on the spectrum to be able to find and schedule safe, rewarding social encounters.

Jane Reddig saw this need and decided to address it. A special education teacher working in New York City public schools, Jane saw first-hand the challenges that many of her students and parents faced when trying to make friends. "While parents of typical children spend weekends carting their kids around to activities such as sports practices and play groups, the parents of my students struggle to find places where their kids can fit in and feel welcome," says Jane. "This leaves families feeling alone and isolated from their communities, and often has an impact on kids' self-esteem."

Jane set out to create a secure place online addressing this critical need.

SpecialPlaydate.com was born. This site connects parents with other parents seeking play date opportunities for their children with special needs. Special Playdate provides quality matches daily base on gender, age, classification, location and interest to families nationwide. After members receive emails of their matches they can connect and schedule play dates. Members can also find weekly posts of play date activity ideas on the website. Special Playdate had successfully grown into a large community of parents with or without children with special needs to easily find friends and other families to connect nearby.

"So many children in special needs educational settings travel a good distance to school so that arranging playdates with classmates who are spread out over a geographically wide area can be difficult. Special Playdate gives families the opportunity to connect with other special needs families right in your neighborhood and to make new connections for your child and yourself," said Kim Mack Rosenberg, Parent and Autism Advocate.

With the help of the internet, children on the spectrum are finding more support, not just professionally, but through communities of their own.