Occupational Therapy is a profession that supports people across the lifespan to do the things they want or need to do through therapeutic use of activities. For children, the important goals of childhood is to grow, learn and play.
LEGO-Based Therapy is a social development program which provides effective social development intervention to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other conditions effecting social competence.
1 in 10 babies in NZ are born premature. Development can be a bit more tricky for these babies, so its important to have an environment that supports their development so they too can thrive.
Emotional regulation, the ability to manage ones emotions appropriate to the situation, takes years to master. Anxiety and anger challenges are becoming more common in children, and can become disruptive for the child's self esteem, social relationships, play success and ongoing holistic development.
Educational Psychologists apply psychological knowledge and theory to understand and support children and young people’s learning and development.
"I left Elen's workshop feeling inspired and buzzing to return to work and apply it all"
Workshops are a great hands on way to learn and explore new information. It's also a great way to spark interest and reignite passion in the workplace. Content can be created for your context, chat to us today about your specific needs and budget, and we will tailor something to fit perfectly.
A great list of books for parents and children. If you have read a great book please let us know so we can keep the list growing for our community.
Occupational Therapy is a profession that supports people across the lifespan to do the things they want or need to do through therapeutic use of activities. For children, the important goals of childhood is to grow, learn and play. There are many individual occupations and activities within these areas, and for children, what is often important for them is to make and maintain friends, be able to play well in the areas that interest them, and feel good about themselves.
At The Playful Place, we work with children in a play based program. This means the child will be playing and having lots of fun throughout the session. The therapeutic side comes from the choice of toys and activities during the session, and the skilled observations and learning opportunities created by the Occupational Therapist.
For example, many young children love play dough, and this is commonly chosen by children to be played with in sessions. While the child and the therapist play with playdough together, the therapist will be assessing the child's fine and gross motor skills; how are they using their hands and the playdough tools, do they have the correct grip for their age, are they scanning with their eyes for the tools effectively, are they sitting in an appropriate position, are they fatiguing quickly? How the child handles the play dough can tell us a lot about handwriting skills, scanning with their eyes can tell us about their reading skills, sitting can tell us about classroom function and tolerance. The therapist will also be assessing emotional regulation; are they able to manage frustration appropriate to the challenge, are they able to ask for help appropriately, how do they take constructive feedback, do they have a growth mindset. Any challenges that are picked up on can then be subtly worked on through varied play opportunities.
It’s important that children feel great about themselves, and what they do. At The Playful Place we have a specific aim to empower children to be the best they can be, feel good about themselves and to know they are a valued and important person. Many children with a neuro-diverse diagnosis know that something about them might be a bit different. We want them to know that everyones brain is different, and they are just as valued and important as everyone else.
Developed by Daniel B. LeGoff, LEGO-Based Therapy is a social development program which provides effective social development intervention to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other conditions effecting social skills. It is evidence based, meaning it has been studied and recreated successfully by other professionals.
The program involves participants taking on roles specific to building a LEGO set. These roles include the Engineer, the Supplier and the Builder. Each role has specific tasks they need to perform to help the group. The group must work together to achieve the build. Social skills are coached and practiced while the group together builds the set of their choice. Motivation is high due to the interest LEGO holds for the participants, reducing the challenge of learning the social skills.
Participants for a LEGO group are very carefully matched according to their existing social skills, and groups start off with 2 or 3 participants. This supports a successful group dynamic, and sometimes can take a bit of time to find the right match between participants.
Due to The Playful Place Therapists being registered health professionals, and having extensive group theory experience and training, other techniques that relate to supporting people with Autism are applied within the group such as predictable routines, visual supports, sensory modulation, and a low arousal environment. This adds to the depth of the therapy provided for your family, and the proven success and outcomes for the group who participate in LEGO therapy at The Playful Place.
Although there may be options elsewhere to engage in a short LEGO therapy group for 6-8 weeks, the research is very clear, that the greatest results from the program come after 2 terms of consistent therapy.
1 in 10 babies in New Zealand are born premature. This ranges from 24 weeks gestation to 36 weeks gestation. Research shows that a large factor in premature babies positive health and wellbeing outcomes is dependent on the environment in which they return home to. This is great news for families as it means you can play an active role in supporting your babies development in those very important first 1000 days.
The Playful Place can support your babies journey through their first year home, by providing a safe, clean environment for your child to attend, where a developmental therapist can support understanding of adjusted developmental milestones, where play ideas to support thriving development can be shared and modelled, and you can have a safe space to voice any concerns you have for you and your baby.
We know how medically fragile premature babies can be in those first few years, and we take this very seriously. All play equipment used for premature babies will be strictly hygienically cleaned, there is no waiting room of sick people to wait in, the space is carefully modified for their health and developmental needs with therapists in optimum health for all appointments.
Emotional regulation, the ability to manage ones emotions appropriate to the situation, is an ongoing process that takes years to master, and the skills can come and go depending on what else is happening for the person. Managing our emotions is a developmental process, meaning the skills typically build sequentially over time alongside our other development. Emotions which can often be difficult to understand and regulate include anger and anxiety. Anxiety and anger challenges are becoming more and more common in children, and can become disruptive for the child's self esteem, social relationships, play success and ongoing holistic development.
Neuro-typical children need support to develop these skills, and neuro-diverse children such as those with ASD or ADHD often need extra support and specialist coaching. Emotions can be scary if we don't understand them, or when they are out of control. Once we can name them, understand them, and know where they come from, then we can begin to control and regulate them.
At The Playful Place we have spent years researching and developing a structured program to teach children a simple and effective way to understand their emotions. We start by simplifying emotions through learning that all emotions fit into just 6 categories. The 6 basic emotions can be big or small or somewhere in the middle. We then learn about the individual emotion scales, and one emotion at a time we explore deeper into the different words used for these emotions, what they feel like in our body, what they look like in ourselves and in others, and even have fun exploring what they can sound like. From here, we can start to learn to manage our emotions, using cognitive strategies, sensory strategies and social strategies.
A fun, hands-on learning experience, The Playful Place trainings are inspiring, thought provoking, and come highly recommended.
Elen has delivered outstanding training across New Zealand and Australia on LEGO-Based Therapy, Understanding Sensory Needs at School and at Home, Dyspraxia - the lived experience, Building Connection with Kids through LEGO for Parents and Careers, and Autism and Emotional Regulation.
If you are looking for new information presented well, on any of the areas we specialise in, please contact us to discuss workshops or training days. We can deliver full day training to Bite Sized 1 hour staff meeting education sessions.
Feedback from Workshops:
"HEAPS of lightbulb moments about the kids in my class"
"I feel fully inspired and ready to put my knowledge from today into action, very excited for the children at our school"
"This workshop has renewed my passion for working with autistic kids"
"I can't really explain how genuine, real and exact Elen was when delivering the workshop, to the autistic kids in our Kura"
"Wow. Just wow"
Super Powered - Transform Anxiety into corage, confidence and resiliance. Renee Jain & Dr Shefali Tsabary .
Written for tweens and teens, this book is filled with great information about feeling stressed out or overwhelmed by pressure from school or friends. Its the book I wish I had on my bookshelf growing up.
The Complete Autism Handbook. Bensen O'Reilly & Kathryn Wicks.
This book is for the New Zealand Australian market, so information is relevant, clear and helpful.
The Complete Guide To Aspergers Syndrome. Tony Attwood.
Tony is a world leader in ASD, and has a deep understanding of all things ASD. A great trustworthy book to use as a first reference.
The Out of Sync Child. Carol Stock Kranowitz, MA
If your child has sensory challenges, this is the go to book for learning all about sensory processing challenges and how to support your child.
The Out of Sync Child Has Fun. Carol Stock Kranowitz, MA
Crammed full of awesome simple play ideas to help feed the sensory system.
Helping Your Anxious Child. Rapee, Wignall, Spence, Cobham & Lyneham.
This is a step by step guild for a home based parent led anxiety program. Great for if you want to help your child yourself at home, and learn about anxiety as you go. The program takes time and commitment, but its worth it if you can.
Raising Boys in the Twenty First Century. Steve Biddulph.
This book is great for having a lot of information specific to boys such as when testosterone naturally is at its highest, how their ears work slightly differently, and the importance of role models.
Thera-Build with LEGO. Alyson Thomsen.
This is a great book for professionals and families filled with ideas of how to use LEGO therapeutically.
LEGO - Based Therapy. LeGoff, Gomez, Krauss & Baron-Cohen.
Ready to jump into the next level of LEGO therapy? This is an excellent book for professionals thinking about starting a social skills group with LEGO, this book provides a validated, researched social skills program developed by world experts in Autism, and is the program we use here at The Playful Place.
Aroha's Way. Craig Philips.
This gorgeous book written here in Aotearoa is a beautiful children's picture book that talks through everyday fear and worrisome thoughts and offers simple effective ways she can manage this. This book helps to normalise childhood anxiety, and help children understand their worries.
Hey Warrior. A Book for Kids About Anxiety. Karen Young
This is one of the most gorgeous books I've read recently, stunning illustrations compliment the very well written content, that helps children understand where anxiety comes from, helping them start to turn their anxiety around.
Pete The Cat. I Love My White Shoes. James Dean & Eric Litwin.
This book has a funky cat who cruises through life despite getting his shoes dirty. An easy rhythmical read that has a mantra thats easy to repeat when a moment of stress comes along.
If You're Angry And You Know It. Cecily Kaiser & Cary Pillo.
Based on the song 'If You're Happy and You Know It' this book has many great self management ideas for children to use when they feel angry.
Let's Get Along! Its Great To Share.
Often found in bookshops for $5 each, this series of books covers various social skills and emotional regulation topics which are easy and fun to read.
I Am An Aspie Girl. Danuta Bulhak-Paterson
Girls with Aspergers Syndrome often have different challenges and presentation than boys. This book is written from the perspective of a girl with Aspergers who talks about her strengths and differences.