Children with disabilities face extra challenges in dealing with life. They can’t quickly process their emotions or explain problems to their parents and other people. Health and developmental abilities may interfere with how they discover their physical and emotional strengths, which is why they need specialized therapy care to ensure they’re fully supported in the best ways possible.
One of the therapy options that can help disabled children is play therapy. While this kind of therapy may sound and appear like regular playtime, it can be much more than that.
For one, play therapy is practiced and guided by trained mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists and psychologists. It’s usually offered by healthcare providers and therapy centers such as hendercare.com.au.
Playing With a Purpose
Playing is a way for children to build self-confidence and learn how to interact with other children. Yet, for children with disabilities, an activity as simple as playing can prove to be quite challenging. They may have the natural instinct to play, but their cognitive and physical difficulties can present real obstacles. This is where a play therapist gets in the picture.
Since playing is an activity that’s most enjoyable for children, the therapy uses the same interest and concept so that the children may be taught and guided to function. To add, below you’ll find several ways play therapy can help your disabled child:
1. It Gives Them a Voice
As mentioned, physically or mentally challenged kids color song can have a hard time processing and expressing their emotions. With play therapy, though, the therapist will try to understand how the child interacts with the people around them and the community they’re in. Through creative methods, children may be able to express their feelings without using words.
For example, if the therapists ask the child to draw something, there may be an indication of what they really feel based on what they’ve drawn. The activity appears to be fun and interactive, but a trained therapist can see beyond what the children are trying to let on. The observation and evaluation performed by licensed professionals can significantly help assess what kind of support the child will need.
Most play therapists apply a technique called Sand Tray Therapy, wherein they provide materials that the child can use as symbols. The method helps the child learn and realize things about themselves.
2. It Develops Their Social Skills
Social skills are some of the essential life skills that every child should learn regardless of disability. However, these skills are also not easy to teach or integrate into their daily lives. A play therapist can help you instill such skills in children so that they may learn how to socialize with other people and children.
This is done by teaching children with disabilities self-control and resiliency. Additionally, they can also learn how to be independent when they start to know the better orientation of time, place, and person. They’ll also learn more about problem-solving through adaptive toys used in the therapy, such as puzzles, board games, and books.
3. It Fosters Feeling of Acceptance
More often than not, disabled children can feel how they’re being treated differently by other kids. They can easily feel like an outcast and might even be a target of bullying. They also tend to think that they don’t ‘fit in’ with other regular children. But when they’re in play therapy, they can easily interact with other children and won’t feel unwanted or rejected by them.
The moment they pick up a toy or material inside the playroom, your child can have that feeling of acceptance. The therapist’s warm and accepting attitude can help the kid feel accepted for what or who they are. You’ll see them running, laughing, and having a great time while in therapy.
4. It Helps Them Make Sense of How the World Works
It’s true that children with disabilities may have a hard time making sense of how the world around them works. As their parents, it’s also equally challenging for you, especially if you don’t know how to handle such situations and special needs.
Play therapy utilizes several intervention techniques that apply environmental modifications. In this strategy, the therapist can modify the child’s environment (while in treatment), so the child won’t find it challenging to understand what’s happening around them.
As the session advances, toys with visual components or embedded audio may be used to help the kid adapt. This could potentially introduce them to an environment with noises or flashing lights, which may aid in making the child be more comfortable with the different elements around them.
Having a disabled child in the family isn’t an easy responsibility. You’ll be faced with obstacles and struggles that could wear you down at some point. Not to mention other factors you need to consider to ensure their optimum health, such as a healthy diet. Along with that, it’s also your responsibility to support their disability in the most effective ways.
It’s best to find ways to teach your kid to be more independent and sociable despite their disability. In this regard, play therapy can be of great help.