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  • Writer's pictureBrooke O'Leary

Let's Play! Positive Effects of Play-Based Therapy

Play-based therapy
Why Play-Based therapy?

Ever wonder why your child’s speech-language therapist looks like they are “just playing?” 

While we are playing, we are working to develop a variety of different speech, language and social skills! We use purposeful play as a tool in speech and language therapy to motivate your child, keep them engaged and help them integrate newly learned skills into their everyday interactions.  

Here are five reason your child’s therapist may be using play-based therapy within speech and language sessions to target your child’s goals: 

  1. Play creates motivation: When kids are excited to engage in activities, they learn best. Before we see progress, we need to see motivation!

  2. Play builds positive associations: For many children, speech and language skills are not something that come easy. With play based therapy, your child’s speech therapist can ensure that working on communication goals is a positive experience. 

  3. Play provides natural context for communication: Play is a natural part of childhood that allows children to discover and explore their imagination. By encouraging this during speech and language sessions, children can generalize skills faster. 

  4. Play fosters positive relationships: Play based therapy helps build rapport between children and adults. This model of therapy puts children at ease and helps them build trust. Play is also a foundation for building peer relationships. 

  5. Parents can use target materials and activities at home: When parents observe speech-language pathologists use strategies during common play activities, they feel more inspired and capable to carryover these skills at home.

play-based therapy
Play-Based Therapy is motivating & fun

Here are a few of Erin’s favorite toys to incorporate during play based therapy: 

  • Mr. Potato Head: 

    • Build vocabulary related to body parts and clothing items.

    • Increase use of word combinations such as: “put on, take off, my hat, blue nose, eyes go on, want pink ears.” 

    • Work on describing skills by talking about the color, size, shape, functional, category of different pieces.

  • Wind up toys:

    • Build anticipation and verbal routines saying: “Ready set go….” 

    • Target functional communication such as, “help me”, “more,”  “stop,” and “all done.”

    • Model verbs by talking about what each toy is doing: “bunny hops,” “ladybug spins,” “dinosaur walks.” 

  • Board games:

    • Build collaborative play and turn taking skills

    • Choose games that have numerous and repetitive opportunities to work on speech sounds. For example, if you are working on /k/  and /g/ sounds with “Pop the Pig,” you can target the following as it comes up in the game: cook, pig, burger, hungry, big, green, get, grow, color, count, pick, oink, look.”  If you are working on /s/ blends, you can play a game called “Sneaky Snacky Squirrel,” and target the following words: snack, steal, spin, squirrel, tree stump, swept, sleepy.

    • Strengthen executive functioning skills by developing and following the Group Plan together.

Erin sees clients in the Greater Boston Area. Contact us today to work with Ms. Erin!

Written by: Erin Griffin M.S., CCC-SLP

Certified Speech Language Pathologist

Erin received her Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology from Northeastern University in 2018, after graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Science and Disorders from James Madison University in 2016. She holds a Clinical Certificate of Competence in Speech-Language Pathology from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, as well as a license in Speech-Language Pathology from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Additionally, Erin holds a Massachusetts Educator License. 

Erin specializes in treating Speech Sound Disorders, Late Talkers, and Receptive and Expressive Language Disorders. Erin has experiences in public and private schools, home health, and pediatric out-patient settings. Erin enjoys working collaboratively with families in order to individualize and maximize the gains of the therapy she provides while catering to client's interests and motivations. Erin likes to incorporate play and literacy within her fun, engaging sessions.

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