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Play Therapy


The social acceptance of children with intellectual disabilities was studied by research using socio-metric measures. In their review of research, Freeman and Alkin (2000) and Siperstein, Norins and Mehler (2006) conclude that these children are generally less accepted socially than their typically developing peers. As several Meta-analyses, it is also the case for children with learning difficulties and more generally special needs (Nowicki, 2003). Research shows that these children are rarely appointed as friends and preferred game partners by their classmates (Kemp & Carter, 2002). These data suggest that social integration is even more of a problem for this group of students as for typically developing children.

Play has played a pivotal role in the psychological, emotional and educational development of children. Play is the natural way for children to know the world. It is well known that young children know the world through play and creative experimentation. But to see them grow up and want to prepare for the future, they are cloistered in the classroom and to fill them with information away from the game are innate, also distancing them from their natural instincts. Studies have shown that children's play is of particular importance in shaping the character and habits of the child (Smilansky & Shefatya, 1990). Through play activities, children develop their personalities and enrich their ties and social manifestations. The study and observation of children's play is a valuable means of understanding the psychology of the child and their development.

Bundy et al (2007) has shown that when intervention of play and socialization is applied to children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), almost half of the children in the experimental group (47%), that is to say those who received play therapy and intensive socialization treatment (more than 40 hours per week), arrive at a level comparable to that of their non-working peers with autism, allowing them to enter the formal education system without the need for assistance and a gain of 30 IQ points on average, after three years of treatment. Unlike children in the control group, which are themselves only 2% to achieve the same results. Meanwhile, the other half of the experimental group had significant improvements. The study included three groups of children who were diagnosed with autism independently by doctors or psychologists. All children were under 4 years before starting treatment. This study has since been widely criticized, but follow-up studies do when these same children were 12 years old (Leong & Carter, 2008), or became adults confirmed that those in the experimental group had maintained their gains without further intervention as opposed to subjects in the control group. Other scientific research has confirmed the efficacy of this treatment for young children with SPD (Anderson & Romanczyk, 1999), it allows them to improve the social, emotional, educational and intellectual plan.

Case Study

This case study shows that the family violence does play an important role in the psychological make-up of a child and his/her personality development. This case study also shows that family violence is an important factor of brain disorder in children.

This is the story of a 6 years old boy Richard Townsend who lived with his father Tom. Tom had divorced his wife and somehow managed to get Richard’s custody. Tom was the foreman in Ford Motor Company and usually do not have much time to nurture Richard or to solve his problems. Rather he tends to show rejecting and punitive parenting behavior when he is in pressure and Richard has to share the strain of his job. Richard was continuously assaulted by his father.

First, the boy tried to ignore this violence and then gradually started to show aggressive and criminal attitudes despite, as I know, all the efforts of his teachers and friends. The mental and physical abuses of his father were starting to affect his personality development. He also experiences extreme difficulty in following instructions of the teachers at school and the instructions of other children during play time and often fails to complete his everyday activities or schoolwork. He also becomes much disorganized and usually has untidy room and school desk. He also regularly loses his school stationery and notebooks and the things for play. He loses things because he has problem sustaining attention and dislike tasks that require this skill and will try to keep away from the school tasks. One of the major change appears in his personality is distractibility, which indicates that he is frequently paying attention to irrelevant happenings, outside noise, other children’s appearance, and thoughts instead of focusing on the tasks given to him, which makes him to fail to complete his own tasks.

The causes of violent and disorganised behaviour of Richard can be traced by delving into the depths of his background. Brain disorder like ADHD and violent behaviour of a person is not a simple phenomenon and there are several factors which play their part in this disorder; this is the reason that there is no simple and straight forward solution available to reduce it. Such mental disorder and antisocial behaviour may harm other persons in particular and the whole society in general.

The process of child development involves the numerous processes and methods which enable a child to experience and undergo stages which are mandatory for his effective development to transform him into an individual to compete with the challenges and tedious tasks that he is going to further encounter in life. The development in itself is an extremely sensitive matter, primarily because of the delicate nature of a child’s mind (Meadows, 2001).

Child development is mainly conducted on three core principles which play the most crucial role in the future personality makeover of an individual, these stages include physiological, psychological and sociological aspects of child growth. It is important to mention here that is through the combination and effectual synchronization of different forces and their proper organization which helps in the proper development of a child. These fundamental agents constitute physiological, psychological and social institutions (Slee & Shute, 2003).

Human infant lacks the skill and knowledge necessary to survive and transmit culture. All societies rely on the family to provide the child with cultural fundamentals. Thus, family background and values play important role in the making of the personality and behaviour of a person. The family background and the home environment have played a major role in the educational achievement of a child. It is a common knowledge that children who grow up in a violent family not only witness aggression; they often bear the burnt of it. Hence, proper and timely intervention, to avoid the domestic violence and to repair the relationship of children with their parents, is necessary for the personality development of children as well as for the betterment of their future life.

In addition to the presented work of the strands, that includes support for gifted and talented, advice and co-ordination for learning mentors and learning support units, language and literacy development at Key Stage 3 and the Urban Leadership Programmes the expansion of collaborative working and sharing of good practice have been identified as the main strategies for helping schools to build capacity. As the active partner of the project, I must mention and reflect upon, Carole Jones, the Head Teacher of Yeading Junior School, highlighted the key strategic aspects to be developed among the children are:

Family or Parental behaviour may make an important contribution in the personality and character building of an individual. In one study, for example, emphatic concern for others at age thirty-one was greater for those subjects whose family life at age five was characterized by high scores on four factors: father’s involvement in child care; mother tolerance of the child’s dependent behaviour; her inhibition of the child’s aggression; and her satisfaction with the maternal role (Koestner et al., 1990). On the other hand, Family abuse and violence surely act as a destructive force in our society. They produce consequences that sometimes reverberate throughout the victim’s lives and even in future families. Victims of incest suffer alienation and other emotional difficulties into adulthood (Akers & Jensen, 2007). Abused and neglected children are more likely to become violent, criminal adults (Alexander et al, 1991). In general, abused children like Richard show a variety of difficulties, including aggressiveness, problems relating to peers, lack of empathy, depression, and trouble in school. Richard’s own behaviour seemed to have little long-term significance, although more disobedience in the home was associated with lower levels of emphatic concern in adulthood.

Violence among the family members is very common. Sociologists estimate that wives are occasionally beaten in percent of families, regularly battered in 3.4 percent (Straus & Gelles, 2002). Abuse occurs in every conceivable form among family members, from wives beating their husbands to children beating their parents or grandparents. Tragically, child abuse is not a rare occurrence. It is estimated that each year in the United Sates over a million children are physically abused and over 150,000 are sexually abused (Gelles & Cornell, 2005). National Survey data indicate that over 60 percent of rape victims are under eighteen (Kilpatrick et al, 2007).

Therapeutic Play Intervention

Throughout history, family violence is considered as an indoor problem. Causes of this problem cannot be confined to the dominant medical model criteria (Dutton, 2006). This may be associated with specifically to physical and mental health of the entire family. The consequences are devastating like breathing difficulties, disorders of attention and concentration ability, incontinence, depression, uncontrollable tremors, diverse fears, learning difficulties, feelings of guilt, confusion, nightmares, eating disorders, sexual dysfunction; anxiety, addictions, eating disorders, physical disorders (injuries, headaches, gynecological problems, disability, fractures, etc.), stress to reach lethal consequences, such as homicide or suicide (McCue, 2008).

Family Violence is, as already mentioned, a social problem. Therefore, to address it requires professionals from different disciplines, intervening in all dimensions of the problem. Castelino (2009) presented an effective framework to provide social interventions to the victims of domestic and family violence. The complexity of family violence in contexts of crisis requires rethinking traditional ways of thinking about management and strategic ways, enhancing the capabilities of those affected by violence. First understand that the role of children is essential when thinking in the intervention and call for help. The identification of cases has been made since the detection of behavioural problems and / or performance.

When Richard was diagnosed with aggressive and violent behaviour and ADHD, his father, Tom, was compelled to consult a therapist. The therapist had a meeting with Richard and found that he is much willing to live a normal life. This is the good beginning because when patient himself wants to be treated and cured he always fights back with his full might to shrug off the disability he has.

The therapist diagnosed that socializing and play Therapy tends to improve the comportment of Richard in his social environment and a better resolution of conflicts arising. In addition to psycho education used to overcome depression, resp. symptom management, therapy includes treatment of interpersonal conflicts underway in all four areas:

  • 1. Inability to mourn, disruption of the grieving process following losses or changes in the context of life of the depressed person;
  • 2. Changing role in the life of the depressed person (maternity, unemployment, ...);
  • 3. Interpersonal conflict (partner, friends, etc..) and
  • 4. Interpersonal deficit (e.g. loneliness, isolation)

Socialization and play therapy is based on a scientific approach and uses the principles of fundamental research. This intervention provides a framework for learning. It showed that every child learns naturally by its relationship with his physical and social environment. People with developmental disabilities and behaviour, including autistic children have learning difficulties. They need help to develop basic learning. Their difficulties in communication, interaction, socialization difficulties give their adaptation and integration. The existence of disruptive behaviour is interfering with relationships with their environment and prevents the independence, autonomy, freedom of action. Therefore, it is the behaviour sufficiently adapted to enable it to integrate into society. In the long term, it is to set up a life to independence, academic and professional social integration, In the medium term, it is to install intermediate steps required to complete the project life (i.e. dress himself, knowing how to identify the street, know how to respond to the instructions). In the short term, we need to target specific conduct to organize tasks more complex behaviours.

Play is the "as if" of reality, while taking consciousness of fiction. The fiction implies opposition to the role of the real and allows the child / break free from the constraints that reality imposes to act and work with their own rules and regulations. Play is serious business, because it activates all the resources and capabilities of personality. The game for the child is equivalent to the work for the adult. For the hits in the game improves children’s self-esteem, assertiveness is a mechanism of personality. Although play can be seen as a form of rest and lack of effort, we can see that this may involve a lot of effort. Many games have strict rules, and activities seeking expensive or difficult, while at other times elapse between repetitions and quiet with no other intention than to obtain pleasure. But for there to play and for the child to have fun overcoming obstacles to play an important role, and it seems necessary because otherwise fall into boredom.

Studies from different epistemological perspectives allow us to consider the play as a key part of comprehensive child development (Weininger & Daniel, 2002) as it saves systematic connections with what is involved, i.e., with the development of man in other planes such as creativity, problem solving, learning social roles etc., that is, with many cognitive and social phenomena. The findings of these studies show that the play is a vital and indispensable activity for human development, contributing to the development psychomotor, affective, social and intellectual.

According to Piaget theory, child started playing at the age of 1 to 4 months. Piaget (1952) has said that what children play was as critical as their ability to imitate and provide an indicator of his or her developing cognitive capacity. The make-belief plays of children, prior to 2 years of age, demonstrated their confidence in using the acquired schemes in make-believe situations and interaction. As play changes, one will see the important shifts in a child’s use of symbols. Over the first three years of life, children use objects in very realistic way in their plays. But as he grew older, a child becomes more and more creative (Crocker et al, 1983).

With the help of play, the child learns because he gets new experiences, because it is a chance to make right and wrong, and to apply their knowledge to solve problems. The game encourages the development of thinking skills, creativity and makes learning potential areas. At the intellectual level, development or fiction simulation game incorporates many cognitive development trends, all related to the development of a less concrete and more coordinated thought while building on the convergent and divergent thinking (Hughes, 2003), and are a support for the development of many cognitive operations such as correspondence , conservation, classification, reversibility, and perspective taking.

The play is a learning resource that creates areas of potential development. Beyond being a source of learning activity. Play creates potential development areas in the game noting that children / as using resources more evolved than in other types of activity. The play is a stimulus for attention and memory. The own game conditions force the child to focus on objects of game situation, on the argument that has to interpret or content of actions, because who does not follow closely the game situation, who do not remember the rules the game or do not assume the symbolic use of certain objects will be ejected.

The desire to play with others, sharing the symbolism becomes necessary, stimulating progress, its evolution from the initial egocentric representation ever closer to reality. When the game becomes symbolically collective it must coordinate different views on the actions, the meaning of objects and it involves coordinating the criteria themselves with other criteria, which facilitates the process of decentralization. Play originates and develops imagination and creativity. There have been many researchers who have drawn attention to the close connections between play and creativity. Play is in a way the history of the word, the first way of naming reality. You can develop the role of language games, which are dedicated to the children with great pleasure, as they are one of the basic forms of language learning. The child develops this activity fun with language in the monologues, fictional or real dialogues etc. The game explores the possibilities of their linguistic repertoire and paralinguistic (tone, rhythm, modulation etc.).

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