Play-Based Occupational Therapy for Children

What is Occupational therapy ?

Occupational therapy assists patients who struggle with daily tasks at home, in school, and in the community. It is a rehabilitation therapy to improve coordination, motor skills, and balance.

In occupational therapy, play-based learning is acknowledged as a major domain for children, and it is crucial to support parent-child relationships. Play-based activities support the child’s developmental window from birth until the age of eight.

Play-based therapy support

Play-based therapy often supports both mental and physical stimulation. It encourages children to explore, grow, and develop. They get the chance to grab new skills as an outcome. It assists children in learning how to interact with peers and the society. Play-based therapy is a type of therapy that uses play as the primary tool for achieving therapeutic goals. During play-based therapy sessions, therapists will often incorporate a range of play activities that are designed to help children develop specific skills.

Occupational therapy exercises incorporate physical activities and games, fine and gross motor skills training, speech and language therapies, self-motivation, fine motor coordination, and socialization. All the above mentioned activities increase the patient’s capacity to move around and accomplish tasks. Patients who engage in these exercises are also urged to put their acquired abilities to use independently.

Some examples of play-based therapy activities include playing with blocks, drawing and coloring, playing with puzzles, and engaging in imaginative play. These activities are designed to be fun and engaging, which can help children feel more comfortable and motivated to participate in therapy.

Also, it promotes the growth of cognitive abilities like focus, creativity, memory, and attention. Children will get the assistance to develop their motor skills and fine motor skills.

Furthermore, children also develop a sense of responsibility when playing. They can easily enhance the values of kindness, respect, and fairness, all of which are pivotal for the development of the child.

Major purposes as to why play is a critical part of Occupational therapy for children:

To improve a wide range of skills

Play is used to focus attention and practice a variety of abilities, including functional and particular motor skills. Additionally, it aids in the development of cognitive language and perceptual abilities as well as sensory processing. 

Children with disabilities benefit most from play when they are developing their cognitive capacities. Building cognitive abilities includes honing learning abilities including focus, memory, and critical thinking. These skills must be taught to children with disabilities in order for them to process sensory data and learn to analyze, recall, and comprehend cause and effect. 

Additionally, successful play engagement improves locomotion, hand-eye coordination, language, and social competence. Here are different plays that help children with disabilities learn skill

Constructive Play – Developing Fine Motor and Cognitive Skills

Incorporating constructive play in therapy sessions helps children develop their ability to express their creativity while exploring various sensory objects, such as identifying colors and shapes.

 Many children receiving occupational therapy have difficulty handling objects with their hands in such situations therapists use plays involving rolling play dough with a rolling pin to make different clay shapes to facilitate hand use. Furthermore, therapists have the option of using Legos for children with autism.

Pretend Play – Developing Imagination and Communication Skills

To help children communicate with them and with others, therapists rely on pretend play. Children’s imaginations can be developed through simple pretend play activities like a tea party or an alien invasion. 

Therapists also use pretend play to improve a child’s social skills. Some children find it difficult to play with other children. Slowly introducing pretend play will encourage children with difficulties socializing to relate with others and learn to communicate with them. Introducing pretend play will encourage children with difficulties socializing to relate with others and learn to communicate with them.

As a Form Of Exercise

Children can be encouraged to be physically active through play. Therapists use play as a tool to help children exercise their bodies and develop their motor abilities. The state of the child also affects physical play or exercise. 

The immune systems will be boosted by exercise. A child’s mental health can benefit from physical activity as well. Children who engage in physical activity are less likely to develop obesity, are more likely to maintain a healthy weight, and are less likely to experience depression.

To Address Tactile Defensiveness

Some therapists use play as one of the methods to train or improve tactile defensiveness. Tactile defensiveness is the reaction that occurs when a child is sensitive to touch. The skin of the body is covered in touch receptors. These receptors can detect temperature, texture, and pain. Due to their increased tactile defensiveness, children with disabilities can react furiously or recoil even from the smallest contact. 

To address defensive tactile issues in children with disabilities play is used.  These exercises teach kids to manage their emotions when they hold or touch something, as well as to comprehend that touching them won’t hurt them. 

One of the exercises therapists utilize to deal with this problem is finger painting. Children can develop tactile processes by painting with their hands and fingers, which also encourages them to play with a variety of materials. Children can use their artwork to express themselves during this play as well. 

At Language for Life, we provide a wide range of professional Occupational therapies that understands the stages of child development and creates specific play activities accordingly. Therapists utilize play-based activities to facilitate a positive growth and development in children with disabilities and also understand every child’s needs and develop plans that will benefit them and help them function independently.

Credit: American Occupational Therapy Association , Playground professionals


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