Play is a central occupation of childhood yet its importance continues throughout the lifespan. The literature demonstrates that play is an occupation that facilitates and is facilitated by all other areas of development, including sensorimotor, cognitive, emotional, communication and social skills. In children with disabilities, play skills are often under-developed, affecting their participation in a culturally and developmentally-significant age appropriate activity.
Most of the literature referencing tablet and computer use for children with disabilities focuses on communication and education goals in which the apps and games are being used as a medium to develop and practice other skills. Given the significant influence that play skills have on the development and quality of life of the child, we found it pertinent to use apps and computer games to promote the development of play skills themselves, where play is the goal, not just the medium.
In our presentation we will address various models developed to evaluate play, including Bundy’s Model of Playfulness (Bundy, 1997(. We will examine the play of a number of children, ages 2-12 years, with varying disabilities, attending the kindergartens and school at Beit Issie Shapiro, in Israel, and describe the play using Bundy’s model and others’, looking at both play using technology (tablets and computers) and traditional play. We will show how tablet apps and computer games can be used to develop play skills and to promote the participation of children with disabilities in play activities. We will discuss relevant professional and ethical dilemmas.
In addition, we will discuss the characteristics of the apps and computer games themselves and whether or not they encourage playfulness and other play traits.