Learning to play is vital for any child. Play consists of sensorimotor, pretend, solitary, symbolic, simple construction, complex construction, parallel, and dramatic. Through play children are able to learn about their environment, their bodies, the world around them, how to interact with others, and develop their social skills.

The four main components that make up play skills include: space management, material management, pretense / symbolic, and participation.

Some of the building blocks to developing play skills include:

  • Sensory processing
  • Planning and sequencing skills
  • Body awareness
  • Eye contact
  • Joint attention
  • Facial expressions
  • Imitation
  • Problem solving
  • Executive functioning
  • Social skills

Social skills are important during play as these allow us to interact and communicate appropriately with others as well as making and sustaining friendships. Some of the components that make up social skills include:

  • Verbal and non-verbal communication
  • Speech
  • Gesture
  • Facial expression
  • Body language

An indication that your child is experiencing difficulty with play and social skills may be:

  • Poor attention and concentration
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Difficulty regulating or expressing emotions
  • Repetitive play
  • Prefers to play alone
  • Unable to read body language and facial expressions
  • Difficulty playing independently and demand constant attention
  • Flitting from one activity to the next without engaging in play
  • Inappropriately playing, for example: turning toys upside down
  • Difficulty with sharing toys or taking turns during play
  • Difficulty making friends of maintaining friendships

Seirrah OT can help babies, toddlers, children, and adolescents to develop play skills by first carrying out an assessment of both play and social skills. Part of the assessment will include observations, administering assessments, and taking a history profile from parents.

Following assessment, the Occupational Therapist will work with you and your child to establish treatment goals, and create an individualised programme which will include activities focusing on: play skills, emotions, empathy, social stories, and social skills. The Occupational Therapist will ensure various approaches to intervention are explored to enable them to work with the individual and their individual needs.

Some of the activities or approaches that we may include within therapy include:

  • Tummy time
  • Sensory, messy, water, and sand play
  • Playing with malleable materials such as Play-Doh
  • Exploring toys include those that are cause and effect
  • Role and imaginative based play
  • One to one therapy
  • Peer interaction
  • Using visuals
  • Singing songs

If you feel that your child’s play or social skills are not developing in line with their peers, please contact our team for more information on how Seirrah OT can support, either by email: or call: 02920 023314.

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The MAT Centre,
Walnut Tree Farm Park,
St.Brides, NP10 8SQ

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