Does Your Child Have Difficulty Playing and Interacting with Others?
You may have heard the saying: “Play is our brain’s favourite way of learning.” There is no doubt that play is a big part of the foundation on which a child can grow many essential skills including social skills and develop meaningful relationships / friendships and find their own way of engaging with the world around them. If your child struggles to engage in meaningful play, they may find it difficult to develop more complex language and communication skills and find it hard to understand societal ‘rules’.
Social communication skills, also known as pragmatics, align closely with play and help children use the right ‘rules’ and language within social situations. If your child struggles to engage in appropriate social interactions, they may find it hard to form relationships with others, communicate with peers and work within a group.
A Growing Understanding works with children and their families to overcome challenges associated with social communication difficulties.
Our individualised therapy programs include ongoing parent support and education, and are specifically designed to:
- Tap into your child’s interests, skills, and challenges to develop appropriate goals associated with social skill development.
- Help your child build confidence and an understanding of how to interact with and appropriately respond to both familiar and unfamiliar people in their lives.
- Utilise games and play to role-paly and demonstrate various social situations and interactions.
- Support parents and provide at-home activities to help build your child’s understanding of societal ‘rules’ and model appropriate behaviours.
- Work with teachers and educators to support your child’s social skill development within the school setting.
- Celebrate your child’s success and encourage them to make friends and join in.
Play is often referred to as ‘the learning of childhood’. Play allows children to explore their world and develop skills that require attention, concentration, and language. Play can be imaginary, constructive, interpersonal (with other people) or intrapersonal (solitary).
Social communication skills, or pragmatic skills, are the skills we use every day to interact with others. It includes both verbal and non-verbal communication, such as speech, gestures, facial expressions, and body language.
Social communication skills involve the following three components:
- The ability to use language for different purposes
- The ability to adapt language to meet the needs of the listener or situation (i.e. adjusting language to suit the listeners age, adjusting volume and being aware of the listener’s knowledge and interest)
- Following the rules of a conversation and storytelling (i.e. taking turns, responding to the speaker, using facial expressions and gestures).
The combination of Play and Social Skills are the foundations of mature learning skills, particularly considering that many curriculum-based tasks rely on working in groups and communication with peers.
Children with a diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD, including Asperger’s Syndrome) often have difficulties with social communication.
Play and social communication skills are essential components of developing effective attention and concentration skills, as well as early communication skills.
Without play skills, your child may have difficulty developing more complex language skills. Play skills also contribute to social skill development, as play encourages children to take turns, share, follow game rules and interact with others.
Without effective social communication skills, your child may have difficulty forming meaningful friendships and managing conflicts, have difficulty identifying feelings or emotions and have difficulty understanding and relating to abstract language.
Developing your child’s play and social communication skills involves a variety of different strategies. To start with, a detailed play assessment would take place that includes a discussion with you, the parent, and information gathering around your child’s current interests and communication skills.
Following an assessment, various programs can be implemented including one-on-one therapy that involves a speech pathologist leading your child through various activities that align with their interests and helps them understand certain social situations, language, and communication skills. In addition to therapy sessions, your child may also be encouraged to join Kids Group Programs that are specifically designed to build social communication skills through fun activities and team work.
Our Speech Pathologists are also Hanen trained, which means we have extensive experience with delivering various Hanen programs including It Takes Two to Talk and More than Words. These programs are designed to empower you, the parent, so you can take the lead with your child’s language and communication skills and help your child develop within the home environment.
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 Social Communication Skill Difficulties
- 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 engage in limited or very repetitive activities like running in the one spot, or pushing a car on one part of the play road?
- 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.