As a parent of a child with sensory and learning difficulties I am always on the look out for new and exciting play ideas. Being a parent and entertaining children of all ages can become difficult and stressful. Add in the special needs of ADD, Anxiety, Hearing loss and playtime can produce tantrums and tears born of frustration and lack of understanding. I sit and wonder some days what it must feel like when you think everything and everyone is against you and you don't understand what you are suppose to be doing. Playtime is such an important part of a child's life and education. Its how they learn from an early age about the world around them. So how do our children do it? In my opinion its because they are amazing!!! These little individuals adapt to work around their disabilities.
All children can feel frustration, anger, upset, possessiveness while playing and socialising. I have found as a parent though especially at home that these feelings associated with ADD / ADHD are heightened. Add in impulsiveness, an inability to wait their turn and short term memory loss, for us finding play ideas is always a challenge. While my daughter is 10 years old her level of understanding is impaired. She thinks differently. Harnessing my daughters strengths and interests is an important part of my roll as a parent and using these ideas can materialise into a myriad of play ideas and situations. We adapt what we have and make the best of it.
Story massage...This is an activity that can be enjoyed by all ages and abilities and can be shared with the whole family. We use story massage to sing, play games, remember things, talk about things and to understand feelings. The children love to write their own stories and then show them to everyone. Check out www.storymassage.co.uk for more information
Sandpits....A really good wealth of play activities from seeking treasure, building sandcastles, writing, drawing, making shapes can all be achieved in a sandpit.
Arts & Crafts....We buy bargain's from pound land or other similar shops and set up on the dining table or even outside. In the autumn we go for walks and make leafy collages from items she has picked up.
Role Play...we have a lot of role play toys from food items, dressing up clothes, dolls and teddies. For those of you with boys yes they can dress up and play along as well. My nephews love pushing pushchairs around. The great thing about role play is you can adapt it and you can play with them.
Dens....This is one I loved to do with my siblings when we were younger. Seek out an ideal place and put up sheets, quilts, blankets to make an amazing den. My girls will play in their dens for hours playing house.
With regards to play there are some things I have found its just easier to avoid. Puzzles and board games, these cause the most amounts of headaches, tears and tantrums. my daughter just can not cope with them. They cause anxiety and frustration. They can be thrown around in anger causing them to be launched at me or siblings (trust me having a hand full of little monopoly pieces flying at you is not funny). I just do not find the appeal anymore. Saying that a deck of cards is great for a round of snap!!!
So with all this in mind I recently joined my good friend and author of "Diary Of A Playful Child", Pennie Powell. Pennie has two younger children and has for a while now being writing blogs all about the play ideas that she does with her children. I started reading them and started to see the potential for using her ideas with my daughter and its been great. Nearly all of Pennie's ideas can be adapted to use with older children and I feel they are great to use with disabled/sensory impaired children. Check out her ideas at www.diaryofaplayfulchild.wordpress.com
We got together at Pennies house and had a great morning playing with coloured spaghetti and food play items, foamy bubbles, and the Crunchy box. This last idea had to be my favourite. All it is just a plastic box filled with dried pasta, biscuits, cornflakes all mixed up. Pennie says "This is good for concentration, fine motor skills,distance judging, edible and its also great for touch, feel and sound and works with all ages." My daughters spent ages separating all the ingredients into three separate piles. It took them ages and lots of concentration but it cost next to nothing and kept them entertained for a good couple of hours.
Have fun trying new ideas
X Leanne X