Why Play Is Good For Speech And Language Therapy
Play Levels Of Social Interaction In Speech And Language Therapy
There are different levels of play used in the assessment of children's speech and language. These levels are used to measure children's play skills. However, there are also play levels of social interaction that can give a general overview of the child's play skills.
In general, there are six play levels of social interaction that children go through respectively. Each level becomes more complex than the previous one, and requires more communication and language skills than the other.
The first level of play is unoccupied play. In this kind of play, the child may seem like he is simply sitting quietly in one corner but actually is finding simple things that he sees around him to be rather amusing. A typical adult may not notice that what the child is doing is already considered to be play, unless they observe meticulously.
The child may just be standing and fidgeting at times, but this could already be unoccupied play at work.
The second level is onlooker play. In this level, the child watches other children play but doesn't engage in play himself. This is when children learn to observe others. Such play level can show a child's attention and awareness skills.
The third level is solitary play where the child plays by himself and doesn't intend to play with anyone else. This level shows an outright manifestation that the child do have play skills, only that it is still at a level that no interaction is required.
A child can be at this level when he is already able to play functionally with an object, can play by himself up to fifteen minutes, and is able to follow simple play routines.
The fourth one is parallel play. This level characterizes children who play side by side but don't communicate with each other. Neither do they share toys. It is said to serve as a transition from solitary play to group play and is at its peak around the age of four years.
A child is said to be in this stage when he is able to play alone, but the activity he is doing is similar with the play activity that other children beside him are engaging in. The child also doesn't try to modify or influence the play of other children around him. Here, the child is playing â¬Ëbeside' rather than â¬Ëwith' the other kids in the area.
Next is the associative play. This is where the children still don't play with each other but are already sharing the toys that they are playing with. This level shows the child's awareness of other children, although there is no direct communication between them, other than the sharing of toys and the occasional asking of questions.
Their play session doesn't involve role taking and has no organizational structure yet. The child still carries on the way he wants to play, regardless of what the other children around him are doing.
The last level is cooperative play. This is the final stage wherein the children are already playing together, sharing toys and communicating with each other.
This level usually happens at about the age of five or six, where children engage into group games and other highly structured play activities.
These levels can be utilized by the therapist as a guide when it comes to the interactions that he wishes to have with the child through play activities.
Importance Of Play In Speech Therapy
Play has a very important role in speech therapy. It is actually one way that speech therapy can be conveyed, especially if the one undergoing therapy is a child.
What's Play Got To Do With It?
Play isn't just used during the therapy proper. In fact, play is already used during the initial phases of assessment. Kids can be very choosy with people that they interact with, so seeing a therapist for the first time doesn't promise an instant click. Rapport has to be established first, and this is usually done through play.
Benefits Of Play
Other than using it as a tool to establish rapport, play also gives a lot of benefits. First off, it gives an over view of the child's skills, whether it be their abilities or limitations.
Then, therapy wise, play can be used to make a child cooperate with whatever exercises a therapist has lined up for him/her. Since play doesn't put much pressure on a child, he/she would likely cooperate to do the exercises and not know that what he/she is doing is already called therapy.
When the child is more relaxed, he can be at a more natural state. If a child is at his more natural state, then his skills could show more naturally. Thus, this would be a benefit on the therapist's part, since the therapist could get a more comprehensive assessment of the child's skills.
Play could also make therapy more fun and less scary. Since play is an activity to be enjoyed, the child would not get bored with monotonous therapy activities that seem like chores, rather than activities.
Play As A Skill
In fact, play is considered to be a skill itself, because it is a natural activity that children do. If a child doesn't play, then there must be something wrong with him, most probably with his Inner Language skills. This is because; play is a representation of a child's inner language. This is just one of the many reasons why play is important.
It actually has a domino effect, if you look at the bigger picture. Play is needed to have Inner language, which is in turn needed to have Receptive language that is a prerequisite of Expressive language. Thus, if a child has no play abilities, then his whole language system may be affected.
Play And Cognition
Play is also a basis of a child's cognition skills. The more developed a child's play skills are, the higher the probability that his cognition skills would be at a fair state. However, play and condition are not the same. Play is more likely a prerequisite or a co-requisite of cognition.
What Parents Have To Say
Unfortunately, most parents may have a negative impression when they see the therapist playing with their child. Initially, parents get surprised and shocked that they paid a very valuable amount for therapy, only to find out that their child would only be playing.
That's why it is very important for therapists to explain the procedures that they are going to do with the child to the parents. To make the session more interesting, the therapist could also include the parent/s in the play session with the child.
In this way, the child would definitely think that it is a play session. Additionally, the parent can also do the play activity at home with the child. Doing this, could serve to be practice of the targeted skill of the play activity.