“My child often seems to be alone. He does not appear aware of the other children and does not play with them. Is he simply anti-social? ”
Children are naturally curious creatures. A very young child will usually display stranger anxiety but as he grows older, he becomes aware of other people around him and the bonds that develop between people. They often see how adults mingle and interact and learn by example. They will explore and test social relationships.
As the child grows, there will usually be the pattern of solitary play, usually exploratory in nature, followed by parallel play (alongside each other) and then interactive play (together with others). A typical child should be able to play with both adults and children of their age. Functional imitative play will naturally lead in to pretend play and then role-play. Social skills should develop alongside these play skills. With that comes the ability to interact and play together with exchange of ideas and sharing of toys.
Children with poor language, communication, attention and social interaction skills will have trouble mingling amongst peers. They may ignore greetings, not greet others and not initiate communication. They may appear to play just outside a group of peers and yet run around in physical play, without truly participating in the game. If such behaviours are noted, it is important that consultation be sought to check of their development. Early diagnosis and intervention will make a lot of difference towards helping your child become better integrated amongst peers.