Play-Based Learning and Floortime Therapy
It feels good to finally stop reinventing the wheel. In the beginning of our family’s journey, I felt I lacked direction or a supply of ideas to help engage with my children. I wanted something tangible, a concrete roadmap from point A to point B. So we went and bought every type of toy the kids showed interest in. Not the best idea financially, but we were desperate to connect with our children.
In our fog of dealing with the diagnosis and wanting to get Floortime started, we thought as if there was nothing else that connected with the Floortime approach. We had the idea this is an autism therapy and our children had different needs than other children. But as I reflect on our autism behaviour specialist’s coaching over the past two years, there is a strong connection to another well-established concept called play based learning. Early years educational centres place a great deal of significance on this concept. Since developmental therapies such as Floortime places significance on play, the two truly go hand and hand.
Floortime’s vision is innovative because it brings learning through play to children with autism – parents need to know more about play based learning and its importance for setting the stage for Floortime sessions. A fusion of these two fundamentals needs to be taught to parents—the principles of Floortime therapy through the concepts of play based learning. Now it is time to set this connection and build the bridge to the island, the island of Floortime. Play based learning gives parents a wealth of information about child development and activity ideas. The Government of Manitoba has produced an early years curriculum which outlines the framework for play in learning centres across the province.
I didn’t need a manual wrapped up with a bow. I had the wrong idea of what I thought I needed to help my children grow. What was important to remember is our children are on the same developmental trajectory as their neurotypical peers. My mistake was thinking our autism treatment program had to do something differently to ensure it worked. But that was not the way to view Floortime at all! It is through play that our children see and understand our world and I have an opportunity to guide them.
Here are some sites that provide a place to start:
- I’m a teacher, Get me OUTSIDE here! : From England she loves the outdoors and has fantastic ideas for our nature loving little ones.
- Play with Joy : On Pinterest there are 25 boards giving activities for sensory, language and social skills that can offer many great experiences.
- Mom’s Trusted Preschool Activities: Great activities for any age. Check out the DIY air fort and the licorice activity!!!
- Time for Tots Store: Already packaged sensory tubs, learning kits from sight words to construction. They ship to Canada!!
- Welcome Here Project: Parents can view play activities for children from 0 to 4-5 years old. It is a great start for the beginning Floortime parent and may be a valuable go to resource when searching for ideas. It is published in thirteen languages like Tagalog, French, Russian and Somali to name a few.
It is important to remember to not think you and your child are on an autism therapy island. Play based learning provides a paved road and getting to point B has been made easier. Your job is to pick activities that fit your children’s interests and development, connect with them, and enjoy the time spent together!