Council of Occupational Therapist for the European Countries (COTEC) and European Network of Occupational Therapy Education in Europe (ENOTHE) were holding a joined conference at NUI in Galway, Ireland. This congress only takes place once every four years and was attended this year by over 1,000 delegates from every continent.
LUDI had the opportunity to hold a symposium on the topic of play for children with disabilities. The theme of the congress was about CONNECTING. So our LUDI symposium was titled:
CONNECTING THROUGH PLAY: LUDI RESEARCH NETWORK COST ACTION TD 1309
At the opening of this symposium Maria Prellwitz (Sweden) presented the LUDI network and the relevance of our work. Her work about accessibility of playgrounds for children with disabilities in Sweden is well known and highly valued.
Sylvie Ray-Kaeser (Switzerland) presented her research with children with DCD and the play challenges the children experience. She suggests that occupational therapists should examine more children’s expectations towards play and offering meaningful play goals and play activities. Obviously parents should be involved in this process as well.
Marieke Coussens’ (Belgium) work is focusing on supporting the professionals in day care centre for young children, aged 0-4 years. The tool kit her team has established is stimulating awareness for the importance of play and providing coaching on the job with concrete ideas and facilitation to stimulate play.
The 4th presentation was about the work of Dana Cappel and Noa Nitzan (Israel). Rianne Jansens (Netherlands) presented on behalf of the Israeli colleagues the positive experiences with children with physical and sometimes also cognitive disabilities in using an iPad for play for the sake of play.
Helen Lynch (Ireland) moderated the questions and discussions at the end of the symposium. These were about definitions of play, how occupational therapists enable play for children in their practice, the influence of the professional context when providing play for the sake and/or play or play like activities.
The symposium was successful in fostering ideas about how we think of play in therapy, and the need to consider play for play-sake as a fundamental issue that is often forgotten.