All Work and No Play, No Way! Having Fun While Teaching Students with Developmental Delays
I'm employed as a pediatric occupational therapist and I frequently work with children diagnosed with developmental delays. I am often asked what kinds of activities I incorporate into therapy, and I always answer play activities! You see an occupational therapist helps individuals obtain independence with whatever their occupation might be, and for a child, his or her primary occupation is play. A child learns about the world through the physical exploration that occurs during play, so the most natural and fun way to work on areas of weakness with a child who has developmental delays is through play.
Developmental delays can occur in a variety of areas including:
1) Fine Motor Skills – using the small muscles in the hands such as with writing and cutting.
2) Gross Motor Skills – using the larger muscles as when walking and jumping.
3) Cognitive Skills – the ability to think and problem solve.
4) Social and Emotional Skills – the ability to interact with others appropriately and maintain self-control.
5) Speech and Language Skills – The ability to pronounce words and speak and process language.
It is beneficial to find play activities that address each of the skill areas listed above. Even though every child that you work with may not have delays in all of these areas, it doesn’t hurt to practice and work on all of the skills. Addressing each of these skill areas through play makes it fun and keeps the child engaged in the activity, which is exactly what you want. It should never feel like work! What follows is a list of play activities that addresses each of the skill areas.