Every week, my brother receives a visit from a play therapist. Considering that I had finished college and was at home this week, I decided to sit in on the session and observe the role of the play therapist as part of the wide range of multidisciplinary care my brother receives. It was interesting for me to be able to notice the difference between the role of play therapists in a hospital setting, as compared with those whose role involves the personalised care of a specific child.
This particular play therapist had been having sessions with my brother ever since he was born, over a year now, which means that they form a relationship through the weeks no the child learns to recognise their therapist. It’s amazing how a child can be taught simple things such as how to sit, talk and walk by using play as a tool.
In today’s session, there was a focus on encouraging him to walk by using toys which would get him to reach over and attempt to take a few steps. I was able to appreciate the way in which she used the act of playing as a distraction to see if he as the strength to walk and was able to balance on his feet. These sessions were very tailored to the child and I could see that they were focussed around progressing at the pace of the child.
The play therapist created some targets and gave some ideas to the parent on what she wanted to focus on so the parents would be able to reinforce certain behaviours in the child. Children with Down’s Syndrome tend to have delayed speech, so the therapist began introducing makati not to the parents. This would involve in the parents making a specific hand gesture every time they mention a particular word. The idea of this was to instill this in the child so they are able to still communicate their needs to their parents even though they can’t speak just yet. My mum expressed her concern that by using signs she was worried that it may further delay him from using words as he may become reliant on the hand signs. The therapist then assured her that this would not be the case as the word would always be presented and heard by the child every time that they were shown the sign. She said that the idea of involving a sign would actually further prompt the child to try to utter the word. I found the concept of this very interesting and was able to value the role of play therapists on the development of a child.