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Using sensory-rich play to help a child’s development


On Saturday, Feb. 2, Parkview LaGrange Hospital Occupational Therapist Becca Wickey, MS, OTR/L, will present a mini-session on "Ages and Stages: Having Fun with your Child” at the 2013 Parenting Fair at the Sturgis Middle School in Sturgis, Mich. Join Wickey to learn fun, hands-on, practical ways to play with a child that can help them meet developmental milestones.

“Play is an essential part of your child’s development,” Wickey stated. “It provides him or her with the tools they need to meet the social, emotional, and physical challenges of childhood. Our roles as parents are to provide sensory-rich opportunities for playing with our children. Touch, taste, sight, smell and movement are all important components of play and parents need to be ready to be messy. Active, engaged play with your child provides a wonderful way to strengthen your emotional bond with them and help their development – all while having fun together!”

Wickey’s presentation will give parents hands-on opportunities to “get messy” as she provides participants with real-life examples of things they can do with their children to engage their senses and allow them to explore their world through play.

“One of my favorite activities with my 4-year-old is to find ways we can be as messy as possible during bath time,” said Wickey. “As my daughter sits in the tub with her eyes closed, I’ll float islands of shaving cream on the water and put a drop of different food color in each one. Then she must mix up the shaving cream to see what color develops. We use the colored cream to draw pictures on the walls of the shower, making quite a mess. It’s all soap. In the end everything – and everyone – is clean and we’ve had a great time.”

Wickey is part of the rehabilitation therapy team at Parkview LaGrange Hospital. In her role as an occupational therapist, Wickey often sees children who have been referred by their physician for assessment and treatment of developmental delay, attention deficit disorder, and even failure to thrive. In many cases, the children’s challenges can be tracked to a lack of sensory stimulation during earlier stages of childhood. Wickey and her team devise therapeutic activities – “play” – that allow the child to work through these stages.

“We involve the child’s parent or caregiver in these activities whenever possible,” Wickey said. “We can provide activities for the child outside the therapeutic environment that can be used as a coping mechanism for them, a way of moving through their challenges and beyond to a happier way of living.”

For more information about pediatric and adult rehabilitation services provided by Parkview LaGrange Hospital, call (260) 463-9340.