Skip to content

    Children's Health

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Playtime for Children With Cognitive Delays

    By
    WebMD Feature
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    Play is such a natural part of childhood. Sometimes we forget that it's not always just fun and games. It’s also crucial to promoting healthy development and maintaining strong parent-child bonds. Child specialists say this is equally true for children with cognitive delays, which can arise from genetic abnormalities, problems in the nervous system, or developmental disorders.

    WebMD consulted the experts about how you can effectively direct your child’s play if he or she has any type of cognitive delays.

    Recommended Related to Children

    Marlo Thomas: Championing Kids' Care

    This Thanksgiving has special meaning for Emmy Award-winning actor, producer, and author Marlo Thomas. It’s the 50th anniversary of her family’s fundraising for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, located in Memphis, Tenn. St. Jude began as the dream of Marlo’s father, the late, great funnyman Danny Thomas, in 1957 and has been going strong ever since. Since his death in 1991, Marlo, along with her sister, Terre, and brother, Tony, has been at the forefront of the center’s fundraising. Focusing...

    Read the Marlo Thomas: Championing Kids' Care article > >

    Understand What Play Is

    As parents, you should understand the role of play in your children's lives. Stephanie Pratola, a registered play therapist and clinical psychologist in Salem, Va., states that play helps children form attachments. As one of the ways that children actively communicate with others, "it's their way of relating. It helps to build the relationship," which is a process that may need specialized attention for children with cognitive delays.

    Focus on What Your Child Can Do and What She Does Well

    ''Rather than focusing on the deficits of your child, focus on the strengths," says Kat Davitt, a certified child life specialist at the Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas. She stresses how parents should pay attention to what their children can do and what activities make them happy.

    Davitt notes that even if your child has cognitive delays, her play will most likely resemble that of a typically developing child. As a result of socializing difficulties, children who are autistic may sometimes be the exception. Nevertheless, playful activities are equally important for their development as for any other child.

    Determine Your Child's Preferences

    Pratola states that even young children have preferences when it comes to play. You just have to figure them out and follow your child’s lead.

    Pratola states that it’s important to decode what kind of stimulation is most engaging for your child. Some children like soft, fuzzy, stuffed animals, while others will find hard plastic balls more appealing. Some children may respond to noisy play, while others may recoil and prefer the quiet. She encourages parents to step back and watch your children’s expressions in order to make the distinction.

    Likewise, Davitt states that it’s important for parents to be aware and accepting of the fact that their children with cognitive challenges may continue playing with toys that are recommended for a lower age range.

    1 | 2 | 3

    Today on WebMD

    child with red rash on cheeks
    What’s that rash?
    plate of fruit and veggies
    How healthy is your child’s diet?
     
    smiling baby
    Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
    Middle school band practice
    Understanding your child’s changing body.
     

    worried kid
    fitArticle
    jennifer aniston
    Slideshow
     
    Measles virus
    Article
    sick child
    Slideshow
     

    babyapp
    New
    Child with adhd
    Slideshow
     
    rl with friends
    fitSlideshow
    Child Coughing or Sneezing into Elbow
    Article