Over the centuries, across species and cultures, play provided the opportunity for exploration, discovery, and creativity. Play was for fun and enjoyment, a time to move and think, spawning attachments, shared attention, engagement, and relationships. In an age when less time is devoted to play, and digital or instructional activities dominate, the power of natural play is in peril.
Today neuroscientists confirm play is biologically based and stimulates brain growth, essential for emotional, cognitive, language and social capacities in all children, including those with sensory processing and autism spectrum disorders. But are “right and wrong” answers displacing emotional thinking, creativity, movement, and the joy of learning? Current science shows physical play provides a pathway to regulation- sensory modulation, attention, emotional regulation and perseverance- and Floortime fosters creative ways to express feelings, to problem solve and to become symbolic. So, do children with special needs need more or less play?
This conference aims to help parents and professionals understand the developmental foundations for play and the experiences necessary to capture its power and potential. The role of the creative arts therapies will be highlighted as a creative extension of play and the therapeutic powers of play will be addressed.
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