Parallel Play Question — The Bump
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Parallel Play Question

My DS is 2yr7m and his nursery school teachers (he is there 2 half days totaling 6 hrs a week) brought up that he doesn't engage with other children as they would expect.  They used this and his repeating  to suggest an evaluation.  I am not sure how children should play with one another at this point but I see him often play with his cousins- for ex, they crash their cars or take turns sliding them down a ramp, they play tag, dances with them, hides under blankets, plays ring around the rosies, they take turns pushing e/o on a ride on car, etc.  He will often try to engage his one cousin who is less active to play with him. His cousins are a mix of older/younger/same age.

Recently, DH and I dropped him off together.  I was speaking with one teacher and he saw DS trying to organize something with other children.  He was telling them which trucks to play with, etc.  The teachers did say that what they see may only be because he isn't there as much as the other children who are mostly there 3 or 5 (some full) days.

Isn't this all cooperative play?  I am so confused especially because I am also reading that parallel play is normal at his age anyway.

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Re: Parallel Play Question

  • Thanks.  I did call last week and have initiated the ppwk necessary.  I do think the repeating is somewhat of an issue so I do plan to go through with the eval. 

    I'm just curious about the parallel/cooperative play.

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  • RMama2012RMama2012 member
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    edited December 2014
    -auntie- said:
    RMama2012 said:

    My DS is 2yr7m and his nursery school teachers (he is there 2 half days totaling 6 hrs a week) brought up that he doesn't engage with other children as they would expect.  They used this and his repeating  to suggest an evaluation. 

    One ignores a seasoned preschool teacher at their peril. While it's seems over-the-top to suggest an eval based on what you've written, they may be having a hard time articulating their concerns or you may be stuck on one piece- the "play"- and not hearing the rest.

    Tell me about the "repeating"? What's that sound like? Is he repeating things he's heard others just say? (could be a subvocalization realted to poor auditory processing) Is he repeating himself? (pallalia) Or is he full on reciting dialog from his faborite movie? (which is a big old red flag for ASD)

    His repeating isnt throughout the day and it is not random or anything he has heard on tv, from adults, etc.  Sometimes he will repeat directions (what the teachers said) or an explanation that I just gave.  For example, last night I said "go play with your Hess trucks" and he said "play with Hess trucks."  Another example might be if we are talking about airplanes and I say "Airplanes need fuel to fly" then he might say "airplanes need fuel. they need fuel."  On a recent Saturday I counted him do it 3 or 4 times during the day.  Last night he did it twice. 

    Another part of this is that he doesnt use 'yes' often which I am working on.  For ex- "Do you want milk?" his answer will typically be either 'no' or 'milk.' Or if I say Do you have to use the potty, the answer is 'no' or 'i wanna go potty.'

     I am not sure how children should play with one another at this point but I see him often play with his cousins- for ex, they crash their cars or take turns sliding them down a ramp, they play tag, dances with them, hides under blankets, plays ring around the rosies, they take turns pushing e/o on a ride on car, etc.  He will often try to engage his one cousin who is less active to play with him. His cousins are a mix of older/younger/same age.

    It's really hard to say. Typically one wouldn't expect a child to play cooperatively with a same aged peer at 2 1/2- that more of a 3 1/2-4 y.o. skill. Same age peer is critical here because and older cousin would scaffold the play and a younger one may do whatever he's told. The sort of games you describe aren't actually cooperative in nature, they're primarily parallel (dancing, crashing cars) or associative (tag, taking turns, etc) That's pretty typical of the age. Cooperative play is when two children share not only toys, but an agreed upon goals in using them in a more novel manner. 

    Recently, DH and I dropped him off together.  I was speaking with one teacher and he saw DS trying to organize something with other children.  He was telling them which trucks to play with, etc.  The teachers did say that what they see may only be because he isn't there as much as the other children who are mostly there 3 or 5 (some full) days.

    This could be related to attending twice weekly. Dropping in twice a week to a class that meets five days is seldom a good idea. It's better if the class only meets twice weekly, so the kids have a more even footing. Maybe he'd do better even adding one day to his schedule, maybe the teachers are trawling for $$, maybe they have legit concerns. It's so hard to say.

    FWIW, trying to direct other children isn't at all cooperative either. I wouldn't get excited by that in a two, but in a four or five it can be a red flag for poor social development.

    Isn't this all cooperative play? 

    No.

    I am so confused especially because I am also reading that parallel play is normal at his age anyway.

    At 2.7 one would expect mostly parallel play with some associative play as well. So I'm kind of wondering why this was mentioned to you as some sort of concern. Did they share other issues and you're using this one point to "defend" your side? 

    Or do they think he'd do better as part of the group if he attended more often? (this could be the case) Or are they seeing other worrisome behaviors? How confident are you in their qualifications?

    They did say that 2 days a week may not be ideal if the goal is socialization.  I would have preferred 3 days ($$$$) and then requested that but the school's organization is a disaster and they have yet to answer me on it.  Even though I brouight it up at that meeting again.  I plan to switch schools anyway because although I like the teachers, it is very expensive for an extemely unorganized admin (other parents agree). 

    Their concerns as they explained them to me were just the 2 items I mentioned- playing with others and the repeating.  They did say he speaks very well and his cognitive abilities were good. 

    They brought up his interest in cars/trucks but did say he does have a variety of interests around the classroom.  He likes the cars the most but not to the exclusion of playdoh, paint, etc.  They asked if he knew the models of cars because they heard him saying them one day during a fire drill.  I got a feeling that they didnt think it was typical.  For the backround there, which I explained to them, is that we live in an apt building connected by a parking garage to my inlaws apt building next door.  Every morning and evening we walk through the garage for drop off on the way to work as well as anytime we get our car.  We count, say colors, and say car models (toyota, honda, etc).  He knows the car brands by looking at the symbols. 


    See above.  Also, thank you for your thorough response. I do plan to go through with an eval since it was suggested and I don't feel right ignoring it but I have wait 2 weeks before I even get the package of ppwk in the mail and am trying to make sense of this.

    ETA- They said they suggested the eval now because he is under 3 and that is alot more "user friendly" through early intervention.  This way I could have the eval done more easily then if he is still doing these things in a few months and I have to go through the over 3 program.  When I called, I was told I have to go the over 3 route anyway.

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  • Thanks for everyone's input.  This is all helpful.  I went into that parent teacher conference expecting to hear some general feedback and felt blindsided by the suggestion for an evaluation especially because I know in what direction the items of concern point.  I didn't even consider any of these things (although I brought up his car obsession at his 15  month pedi visit) before because they seemed typical to me.

    @auntie I think he is pretty good.  He tells me what he did at school or grandmas, etc.   Recently it was a story about the play structure and how some children were blocking the slide and he told them to move.  I always ask about snack. so recently I asked and he said there were "apples & crackers...i ate crackers"  I said "did you eat the apples," he said "i didnt eat it."  The same goes for grandmas or just talking about things we did in the past.  The school sends recap emails about what they did during the week and with photos so I use that as ideas to ask about different things.

    Of course sometimes depending on his mood, he doesn't care to answer my questions at all.

     

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  • also @auntie, I am a bit frustrated that I was told I cant do EI/under 3 route because it's still 5 months until he turns 3.  Maybe I will call again and question that a bit more.
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  • I think getting the evaluation is a good idea. My DS's doctor was concerned with his echolalia at his 3 year appointment last April. We had an evaluation from the school and they said this is how he is learning to speak. They also said he had a receptive delay, but would not give services so we started private speech. After 3 months, the speech therapist was concerned with DS's speech. She said he has scripted speech so he is mimicking words he has heard and he also copies phrases from movies. They are also concerned with his play and they said he does not know how to play. They said I did not notice it because he learned to play with our toys from watching DH and I play, but when introduced with new toys he did not know how to play.

    My DS also said no to every answer even if it was something he wanted. He hardly said yes before he turned 3. My DD who is 18 months will nod yes or no to answer questions. DS never did this. We have worked a lot on his echoing since it was pointed out to me last year. Some examples are if I said so you want to go outside, he would say go outside instead of saying yes. My DS also loves cars and trucks. The description @dc2london gave of how her DS1 plays sounds a lot like my DS. He makes me food instead of helping me make food. Up until a few months ago, his way to color was to tell me to draw him a car or a truck instead of him coloring with me. My DD colors with me.

    I have an appointment in March with a neurologist at our local children's hospital to see if DS has autism. When the speech therapist pointed out her concerns in October, I called the school again and because of the help of the private speech therapist, they are giving him services now. He is starting at our town's school next week with an IEP and they are going to focus on his speech and social skills.

    Good luck with your evaluation.
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