Why does the therapy look like play?
The reason is because we want it to look like play! We want the child to look forward to coming to therapy. Children learn and retain information best when they are playing. According to the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, “it takes approximately 400 repetitions to create a new synapse in the brain – unless it is done with play – in which case, it takes between 10-20 repetitions”.
The role of the therapist is to increase the independence of the child. In order to achieve this, they use play as a therapeutic tool so as to meet goals. These include: fine motor skills, gross motor skills, visual motor/perceptual skills, language skills, social skills, attention, and behavior.
Play is used to address the underlying components of what it takes to be independent. That is why marbles, beads, playdough, and crayons become our therapeutic tools. It is a way to strengthen the muscles, increase coordination, provide opportunities for language development, and work social skills. We make therapy look like play to make it fun, and keep the child motivated!
What is Child-Directed therapy?
A skilled therapist has the ability to let the child choose an activity, and then make it challenging in a way that addresses their needs. For example, if a child chooses to play Mr. Potato Head, the therapist sees the opportunity to work on fine motor skills, visual motor skills, gross motor skills, attention, social skills, language, turn taking, peer play, and the ability to follow directions. Complexity is added to the play, and the therapist determines how much to add or take away. When the activity becomes too hard, the therapist can modify tasks to make them easier. This way, the child can still participate and feel successful.
Isn’t all play good?
Not all play is created equally. Our goal is to teach parents how to incorporate our methods into everyday life so that the child can achieve as much independence as possible. If a game is too hard for a child, they might start to shut down. The therapist is able to create home and school programs to allow the child to have as much independence as possible without overwhelming them. As their skills start to develop and improve, the therapist can help to determine the best way to increase the challenge.
A note from TLC:
Here at TLC Kids Therapy, our therapists prefer to take a bottom up approach. We encourage development of the nervous system in order to improve the motor skills and achieve functionality. So, instead of practicing buttoning every time a child comes to therapy, we integrate the reflexes that permit smoother bilateral coordination, and strengthen the fingers so that all aspects of what it takes to get dressed in the morning become easier.
If you think your child could benefit from any of the therapy disciplines we offer, please contact us. We’ll be more than happy to discuss their needs on a case-by-case basis.