Play and Connection

Looking for Support with Identifying Your Child's Unique Play and Social Connection Style?

You may have heard the saying “Play is our brain’s favourite way of learning.” At A Growing Understanding, we celebrate the diverse and unique ways children play and believe that play, is a personal expression of who we are as individuals.

Play, in all its forms, allows us to engage in the world around us. Play serves as a vital avenue for developing children’s cognitive and emotional development, social interaction and connection, sensory regulation, and communication skills.

Social communication skills, also known as pragmatics, have a significant role in play and children may have challenges in reciprocal interactions, leading to difficulties in building relationships, communicating with peers or participating in groups.

We recognise that there is no ‘one right way to play and socially connect’, and we aim to support you in supporting your child’s unique and individualised communication style.

Our individualised services include ongoing parent support and education, and are specifically designed to:

  • Identifying your child’s preferred play and communication styles, that are aligned to their interests.
  • Help your child develop confidence and appreciation for all the diverse ways of interacting with familiar and non-familiar individuals.
  • Utilise games and interest-based play to create safe spaces for your child to engage, empowering them to make connections, problem-solve and express themselves.
  • Providing support and education for parents and carers about your child’s communication preferences and how to support them at home and school.
  • Provide support and education for educators about the child’s communication preferences and how to support them in the school and playground settings.
  • Embracing your child’s unique strengths and using them as a foundation to help them recognise and value their authentic self as a platform for fostering meaningful connections with others.

Play is often referred to as the ‘learning of childhood’. Play allows children to explore their world, build confidence, understand how the world works, learn and develop skills such as language, communication and attention.

  • There is no ‘right’ way to play. It is as individual as each child and each ‘way’ of playing allows our children to interact with the world in unique ways and learn new skills.
  • Some of the most common types of play are: physical play (e.g. dancing or running and climbing), imaginative play (e.g. playing shops), constructive play (e.g. building towers with blocks), interpersonal play (playing cooperatively with others), intrapersonal play (playing alone), sensory play (e.g. playing with sand, water or slime), parallel play (playing next to someone without direct interaction), organisational play (e.g. lining things up or setting toys up).

Social communication skills, or pragmatic skills are made up of a broad range of skills that enable meaningful and effective interactions with others on a daily basis.

At a Growing Understanding, we recognise that there are diverse and unique ways that children socially interact and communicate and value all forms of social communication. Some examples of social communication skills are:

  • Purposeful Communication: embracing the individual’s way of expressing their thoughts, feelings, making requests, sharing information or engaging in social exchanges.
  • Perspective Taking: Ensuring that all people have a right to share information relevant to them, communicate in different ways, and feel listened to.
  • Understanding that everyone has different social preferences, and it’s ok to establish and maintain boundaries with others people.

Our approach to supporting your child’s play and social connection preferences involves working with your child to help them identify their perspective, observe and discuss different communication styles and identify their preferences in the area of social connection.

We also support families and educators in providing opportunities for children to identify and explore their interests and connect with others who have similar interests.

Additionally, we support children to develop their self-self-advocacy skills, which they can practise within their sessions or as part of our Kids Group Programs. These programs are specifically designed to help children grow their confidence and connect with like-minded peers through fun activities and team work.

In addition to working with you and your child, our speech pathologist will also work with your child’s day-care, preschool or school educators to promote consistency when it comes to the support they require.

What to Look Out for with Play and Connection

  • Does your child have difficulty playing on their own and constantly demands adult attention?
  • Does your child find it hard to make friends and/or approach peers?
  • Does your child require adult assistance to solve problems?
  • Does your child dominate conversations and find it hard to listen and pay attention?
  • Does your child have difficulty understanding a different point of view?
  • Does your child have difficulty interpreting tone of voice?

Remember, every child develops at their own pace, but if you are concerned, talk to us today. Our friendly team of experienced speech pathologists are here to guide you through your concern and help you take the best next step.