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How play therapy helps a child with special needs? Find a special ed school in mumbai.

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“Play is a method by which a child communicates, and processes information from the outside world”. Functional and social play skills are an essential part of their overall development.
Typically, children prefer the company of other children rather than being alone. However, for children with special needs, playing becomes a difficult task. They are unable to use toys in an appropriate manner; they also face difficulty in initiating or engaging themselves in play activities. Hence, it is important to increase the “motivation to play” in them and teach various skills which are required to engage in appropriate play. Find the best special ed school in Mumbai.

It is important to remember that the idea of ‘toys’ and ‘play’ should be fun and a source of enjoyment for the child. It should not evoke any stress, fear or anxiety in them. Play skills help to develop concepts like colors, shapes, body parts, alphabets, numbers, imitation, sequencing etc. Parents, caregivers and teachers should include variety of activities for different types of play such as:

  • Gross- motor play:
    • Playing with large blocks
    • Hopscotch
    • Playing on the trampoline
    • Climbing play on ladder
    • Balloon and bubble play
    • Throwing and catching a ball
  • Fine - motor play:
    • Play-dough and putty
    • Painting (finger painting, using brushes, markers and crayon)
    • Water play
    • Stringing beads
    • Sewing/lacing cards
    • Legos, Lincoln logs
    • Mosaic play
  • Cognitive play:
    • Board games
    • Card games
    • Pattern making activities
  • Socio-dramatic play:
    • Role play with dolls and stuffed animals
    • Using props and costumes in play (hats, doctor’s coat, stethoscope, chef’s hat etc.)
    • Finger puppets
    • Pretend play like creating a grocery store, restaurant, hospital at home

There are few things that we need to keep in mind while teaching play skills to a child.

Play skills should be taught by breaking down each skill into small sequential steps using a method called ‘chaining’. Changing the rules or order in which a game needs to be played can make a huge difference in the child’s motivation level. Following a structure (set pattern) could help children in learning each skill faster. Another consideration is to designate a specific place at home for the purpose of play, areas that are not too large and have some definable boundaries helps in teaching a child what can or cannot be done.

Strategies for teaching a child how to play
  • Sit in front of the child so that s/he can look at you, and observe what you’re doing
  • Provide choice of two or three toys while initiating play, this helps in reducing stress as we are providing an opportunity to choose.
  • Follow the children's lead during play. This is helpful as they learn most when they are interested. Child – led plays start with observing what the child is interested in and then going along with it. This is known as ‘Natural environment teaching’.
  • Reward your child for successful play behavior. Even if s/he has attempted to play, immediately provide a reward (praise, tangibles, or any other preferred object of his/her choice).
  • Show the child what s/he is supposed to do. e.g., in order to teach them how to build a tower, show them how to do it, we can also use pictures and videos to help them learn.
  • In order to teach pretend play, use some everyday pretend actions as a model to your child such as driving a car, riding a horse or banging a drum.
  • Let the child play in different environments. For e.g. if s/he wants to play with soft toys at home, encourage the child to play at a friend’s house.
  • Use play to teach life skills. For e.g. dressing up a doll can help children in learning to dress themselves.
  • Consider a child's strengths while teaching. For e.g. if your child is a visual learner, you can utilize this strength by using pictures of the different steps in a game or activity.

Also read, What is a therapeutic intervention? What are the therapies included for children with learning disabilities? Find a school for learning disabilities in Mumbai.

How Implementing different types of play helps children with special needs:
  • Manipulative play activities can be used to show children how to interact with objects and the environment around them. For e.g. putting together puzzles or stacking blocks could teach them perception and problem solving skills.
  • Matching and sequencing games helps children to develop motor skills, language, concentration and memory.
  • Role-play and social play can help children learn how to socially interact with other people. An example of role-play is to sit down with the child and teach them how to greet when someone says “Hi”/ or when there are guests at home.
  • Toys that focus on co-operative play can be an effective way to promote development of social skills like sharing, turn taking, communication and imitation.
  • Sensory issues are common among children with special needs and playing can be used as an opportunity to address their needs and provide different kinds of sensory input. For example, musical toys provide visual stimulation with lights. Sing along videos are great for auditory stimulation and also helps in developing verbal skills.
  • Trampoline, bicycles, jump ropes, etc. can be used to enhance muscle coordination, balance, and movement. Children with increased hyperactivity could benefit from physical play activities as it helps them to channelize their energy in an appropriate manner.

How do inclusive schools benefit a special child? Find the best special ed school in Mumbai.

Children not only need appropriate materials and activities to play with, but also need to be taught ‘how to play’. Play can be taught using a technique called ‘Floortime’. As its name suggests, it encourages parents/caregivers and teachers to engage with children at their level by getting down on the floor. It is a relationship- based therapy for children with special needs. It is also used in combination with ABA therapy techniques. Overall, Floortime aims to help children reach the developmental milestones crucial for emotional and intellectual growth. Depending on the child’s needs, a certified play therapist, ABA therapist or a child psychologist can implement these techniques and even teach these techniques to parents and caregivers. This can have a significant positive impact on a child’s behavior.

Author: Ridhima Sharma
Behaviour Therapist, The Aditya Birla Integrated School

Looking for a special ed school or school for learning disabilities or adhd schools in Mumbai, check out The Aditya Birla Integrated School , an inclusive school with an aim to create happy, confident, balanced and independent learners.

Also read, Famous personalities with learning disabilities

If you think, your child needs special education, please
Please contact TABIS for more information on special
learning curriculum and admissions , The Aditya Birla Integrated School,
162-164, D.N. Road, Opposite CST Station.
Fort. Mumbai – 400 001.
Contact No.: +91 8828860611
Office Timing: 9:30am – 12:30pm

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