What is play therapy?

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🏡 Click HERE to Join Us for 40 Days of Decluttering🏡When our second son was born, everything was perfect.  We were so blessed to have made it this far in our pregnancy (they induced me early because of a hard pregnancy and IUGR, low fluid, etc…)    When he was born, he had had a little trouble breathing at the beginning and his blood sugar was very low, but overall he did great with the delivery and was doing well (four pounds, 12 ounces, born at 37 weeks).Soon, we learned that our terribly hard pregnancy had actually led to some problems with his development.  He was having trouble latching on (I exclusively pumped & bottle fed him for a year) and at our Lactation Consultant’s meeting, she told me that she thought that he had hypertonia.   I am still amazed that this was overlooked by so many, but she picked up on it.   His body was stiff- he was like a brick.  It was almost like he had a board in his shirt.   He couldn’t open his mouth very wide and he couldn’t lift his arms above his head (not even close) or rotate his torso.  His toes were curled the opposite way and his hands were always clenched.  This little four pounder was so stiff.   (I’ll write more on this another day because it is really under-written about.

I wish that someone had written about it when we were going through it).  She was right, he had hypertonicity (read that story here because it has a great ending!)- a diagnosis that we would soon become very familiar with, (it means high muscle tone.)  We didn’t know what his life would be like.  They had given us so many “outcomes” from “he will never walk or talk” to “he might just have a few minor delays”.It was scary, stressful, overwhelming and sad.  When we learned all of this, our pediatrician referred us to a neurologist in Concord, NC.  The neurologist told us (when our son was just a few months old) that we should start therapy as early as possible because therapy has the ability to re-wire a child’s brain, helping them to re-learn things or to learn them for the first time with such a huge ‘jump-start’ in life, compared to if we had decided not to have therapy.So, with that, we jumped aboard the therapy train.  We called our local CDSA  (You can see a guide to the referral process here) and they sent out someone to test our son and once he qualified for services, we began receiving play therapy with a local company, Learning Connections Unlimited.  Later, we added PT, OT and speech/feeding therapy as well.

I saw, first hand, the wonderful things that therapy was doing for our child and I decided then and there that I was going to help other children the way that therapy had helped our son.   I took my elementary education college degree to the next level and earned my certification in play therapy (also known as CBRS).What is play therapy?
It is just what it sounds like – therapy through play.  We help children reach their goals through “play”.   Our son’s play therapist, Lauren, was the most wonderful person to come into our home, because she offered support, advice and therapy all at the same time.   I truly felt blessed to have such a wonderful system in place through play therapy and I love offering the same thing to my own therapy clients.What we do, as play therapists:
“Provide a home based holistic approach to intervention which is child directed and fun for the child. Most of a child’s intellectual development occurs between birth and four years, this is the prime time for intervention. We have experience working with children with developmental delays, Autism, Down Syndrome, Language delays, Duplication of 9p, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Sensory Integration Issues, hydrocephalus, and premature babies.” (this is taken right from the LCU webpage)

Play therapy is so beneficial!
If you have a minute, I recommend that you read this on the importance of playing with your child.  You can also download THIS great resource from a company that I work with for therapy (Learning Connections Unlimited).

If your child is not receiving services, I highly suggest that you have your child tested (for free) through the CDSA (find out how to do that here).    They will tell you if your child qualifies (if you think that they need therapy, they will more than likely qualify- trust your instincts.)    They will tell you if you will owe a fee for services (medicaid families will not owe anything and other families will be on a sliding scale, so you may owe just 5% of the services of more.  It depends on your income, but you may be presently surprised!)Use the search bar on this website to find a local CDSA near you to have your child tested:  CDSA (early intervention).  If your child qualifies, they can match you up with a therapist or you can request one.  If your child is over three, many companies (this one included) will still work with you on your child’s therapy, privately.Play Therapy is just the first step in your path towards helping your child to achieve so many goals!  You are your child’s first advocate and as my Mom always tells me:  “You are your child’s voice” so speak up and do what is best for your child!I understand where you are in your journey and I know the fear and uncertainty that can come with a diagnosis for your child.   I am blessed to be able to help our child and others and I hope that I was able to help you today, too.Your child will reach the expectations that you place in front of him/her.   Pray for your child, encourage your child and help your child… and they will amaze you every day!  Just have a little faith.  
If you would like to read our story of how our child came through his diagnosis to be the amazing child that he is today, read this post: Teach your Child.   I feel so blessed when I read this and remember the road that we have traveled and how great it has turned out.

If you are looking for a few ideas- here is a post on things that you can do at home to ‘ Help toddler with a speech delay’  and see my Kids Activities category for more ideas.   I also have a Play Therapy Pinterest Board and a few about Kids that I try to pin some therapy ideas.  Follow me on Pinterest HERE.Please leave your helpful tips below!   If you enjoyed this post… please consider following Your Modern Family on Facebook or Pinterest.
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