Play is one of the most important things that children do. When your child has movement, communication, vision, or learning challenges, it may feel like their opportunities to join in with play are limited. It can be really common to get stuck on toys that light up and play music, or to sit on the sidelines while the other kids run around. The aim of this series is to look at simple ways to adapt favourite play activities so that everyone gets their turn to play.
This week we’re talking about doll and home corner play. Children often start pretend play by imitating things they do and see in their everyday life, so doll and home corner play is a great place to start. Early doll play might include feeding dolly and putting them to bed, and more advanced doll play can include complex storylines and problem-solving. Depending on your child’s goals, different parts of the play activity can be modified to help them participate.
- Does your child need a sensory warm-up before they start? Speak with your child’s occupational therapist for sensory strategies
- Think about the positions your child needs to be in during the day. Play can be a great opportunity for long-sitting (with the doll house on the floor) or standing (with the doll house on a table)
- The more stable the sitting position, the more control the child can be expected to have with their reach and grasp. Some children benefit from an arm wrap on one side to help them stabilise so they can play more effectively with their other hand.
- Consider the weight, shape, and size of the equipment available to play with. Swapping a heavy doll for a lighter one (or even a soft toy) might help your child move them more easily, or sew a strap onto the dolls clothes that your child can grab easily
- Hand-sized objects are easiest to grasp and explore: this might impact your choice of spoons/tea pot/doll furniture
- If your child has difficulty regulating their force (e.g. when placing furniture or putting doll to bed), placing non-slip mat under the object will stop it sliding and give a better chance of success.
- Some children might not know where to start with a new type of toy. Demonstrate a simple play action (e.g. putting a blanket over the doll) and see if they will copy you
- Link the new type of play to something your child already likes – for example, giving doll a bath for those children who love water play
- Model lots of language!
- See below attachment for an Aided Language Display for those who use AAC to communicate.
If you have questions about how to modify play for your child, please contact your child’s therapist. If you are not a CPEC client, contact firstname.lastname@example.org