Parenting

Play therapy makes a difference

Play-therapy

All kids need is a little help, a little hope, and someone who believes in them That doesn’t seem like a lot to ask for, does it? Yet, all around us, we see so many unhappy, and yes, damaged children. As society is advancing, as we are daily attaining new heights of success and evolution, something is certainly going terribly wrong. Otherwise, why would we see so many cases of childhood depression, student suicides, bullying, and other innumerable things that children of today are grappling with? Add to that the increase in cases of learning disabilities, autism, ADHD and one realizes how challenging it is to be a child in today’s world. So as parents, as teachers, how does one deal with this new, changing face of childhood? Seen this way, it looks like a dreary, dismal picture. Yet, it doesn’t need to be! Understanding the challenges children face today is the first step toward being in a position to empower and help them. Then comes acceptance of the differences in each one of our children. This calls for patience, for perseverance, and most important of all, tolerance. This issue of our newsletter is a small attempt on our part to clarify some of the challenges children of today face, & help parents, teachers, and educators take the first step toward reaching out to every child.

Attention Deficit- Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD):

ADHD is a neuro developmental disorder which causes hyperactivity, inattentiveness and impulsiveness in children. The child will persistently show bouts of inattention in daily activities, excessive motor activity, fidgeting, tapping, or hasty actions and so on.

Intellectual Disability:

This refers to difficulty in intellectual and adaptive functioning in conceptual, social and practical domains. It ranges from mild, moderate, severe and profound. Depending on the severity level their abilities to perform daily activities differ. In simple words, this refers to children whose IQ scores tend to be lower than average.

Down’s Syndrome:

It is a genetic disorder caused due to presence of all or part of third copy of chromosome 21. There is no cure for Down Syndrome. Education and proper care have been shown to improve quality of life. It can be identified during pregnancy though pre-natal screening. To diagnose the child with either of the above mentioned disorders one has to undergo an assessment procedure and then a specified plan can be laid down to them which may include counseling, occupational therapy, speech therapy and many more. The important thing is to realise that a diagnosis of any of the above need not be the end of the world.

Today, there are many interventions, management programmes, and remedial plans available to help integrate children with developmental disorders into the mainstream of society. Hence, it is important that if such a problem exists, as parents, we aim for early identification, so that intervention can start early.

PLAY THERAPY

Play is a child’s work and that is not a trivial pursuit –Alfred Adler All our childhood memories are full of the times we squandered in play. Each memory of that time has a special place in our heart. This play, though at that point looked aimless, had more to give than we think it did. Play is the natural world of the child. It is in this world that children learn about themselves, others and become aware of the world around “theirs”.

In the culture today, where play is becoming less valued (for a host of reasons), play therapy helps bring that platform back into the lives of children. There is a lot more to play time than just fun and games.

While it does bring in the natural environment back to the child, it is also a means for adults to understand this world of the child by appealing to the child’s own level.

Therapeutic play therapy is a specialized treatment in which therapists play with the child and through this play, observe, diagnose

and provide interventions. These techniques are efficiently used while watching kids play. These observations are used to help them deal with their emotional, mental, or behavioural issues. Play therapy is a highly structured and organizedform of play. It provides the child a healthy and comfortable atmosphere while at the same time makes it enjoyable, to work on their mental health. There is a range of different types of techniques used in play therapy. These techniques are used according to the child’s emotional and psychological needs. The therapist could use a directive or a non-directive approach depending on the needs of the child.

Play Therapy in itself has many curative powers. Play is used in a strategic manner to help the child expressand bring out the underlying problems and difficulties. As the little ones do not have a large vocabulary to express their thoughts and feelings, play gives them the perfect medium. It is this non-threatening and familiar environment that helps the child open out his mind’s contents. Therapists can help the child to express, learn, teach adaptive behaviours and also teach them coping strategies for their emotional and/or social deficits.

While largely used with children in the age group of 3-12 years, it has been proved to be therapeutic with adolescents and adults too. It helps them loosen their defences and explore their issues in a more comforting environment. As observed with kids today, who are addicted to mobile phones, video games and internet, play therapy brings them back to healthy play. It prevents restlessness, anger, depression and temper tantrums. It helps in developing logical and perceptual acumen, increases creativity and impulse regulation. Thus, play therapy encourages the child to analyze their conscious and subconscious motives, leading to transformation. Play therapy works as an experiential technique for the child.

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