Title

The discourse of play: How we structure and value play for children with disabilities

Start Time

21-10-2011 2:20 PM

End Time

21-10-2011 2:50 PM

Session Type

Event

Abstract

Intent: This theoretical paper summarizes an analysis of the discourse on the occupation of play in historical and current occupational science and occupational therapy literature and relevant literature from other disciplines including anthropology, cultural and disability studies and psychology. It explores play as occupation rather than play as a means of enabling development. The main themes that are derived from the literature are then discussed within the context of children with physical disabilities. The impetus for this analysis of the literature came from an article by Goodley and Runswick-Cole (2010) that suggested that play of children with physical disabilities has come to be considered abnormal, thus further marginalizing these children. They further argue that play has become institutionalized; it is controlled and constrained by others.

Argument: Play, in its simplest form is occupation in which a child (or adult) engages in for fun, because she wants to do so. Play that is self-directed has multiple benefits to health and well-being; enabling the child to express herself, develop her identity be and become in the world. However, in some contexts, play has become regimented and rule-bound, limiting these occupational dimensions. Children with physical disabilities have often been deprived of play occupations, in part because of our inability to create ways in which they can play or to recognize the ways in which they do play. Tension results from attempts to achieve a balance between providing contexts that afford opportunity to engage in play while also ensuring choice, control and self expression in and through play.

Importance to Occupational Science: Uncovering and reflecting on the historical discourse of play has implications to the dimensions of doing, being, becoming and belonging of children with physical disabilities. If occupation expresses who we are and are becoming, then discourse that institutionalizes play constrains the child’s ability to be and belong in the world as experienced through play. Further, the analysis has implications to occupational justice and the rights of children with disabilities to engage in play of their choice.

Conclusion: Analysis of the discourse of play in key historical and current literature, from an occupational lens, reveals how play of children with disabilities is constructed. It challenges us to create contexts that enable engagement in this important childhood occupation.

Objectives for Discussion Period:

  1. Discuss the implications of the themes derived from the analysis in terms of how they influence our thinking about engagement in play by children with physical disabilities.
  2. Discuss the tension between providing opportunities and contexts that enable play, such as the use of assistive technology, while also maintaining the child’s choice in and control over the context.
  3. Discuss additional ideas of play as occupation of children with physical disabilities that were not uncovered by the analysis presented.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does an occupational lens re-shape our conceptualization of play of children with significant physical impairments? What challenges does it create for enabling play occupation for these children?
  2. What role does assistive technology play, both for enabling control and choice in play occupations and alternately, for limiting choice in these occupations?
  3. Are there other concepts of play or occupation that have relevance to this discussion?

References

Bruner, J. (1972). Nature and uses of immaturity. American Psychologist, 27, 687-708. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/h0033144

Goodley, A., & Runswick-Cole, K. (2010). Emancipating play: dis/abled children, development and deconstruction. Disability & Society, 25:4, 499-512. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09687591003755914

Reilly, M. (1974). Play as Exploratory Learning, Beverly Hills: CA, Sage.

Sutton-Smith, B. (1997). The Ambiguity of Play, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Comments

Theoretical paper

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Oct 21st, 2:20 PM Oct 21st, 2:50 PM

The discourse of play: How we structure and value play for children with disabilities

Intent: This theoretical paper summarizes an analysis of the discourse on the occupation of play in historical and current occupational science and occupational therapy literature and relevant literature from other disciplines including anthropology, cultural and disability studies and psychology. It explores play as occupation rather than play as a means of enabling development. The main themes that are derived from the literature are then discussed within the context of children with physical disabilities. The impetus for this analysis of the literature came from an article by Goodley and Runswick-Cole (2010) that suggested that play of children with physical disabilities has come to be considered abnormal, thus further marginalizing these children. They further argue that play has become institutionalized; it is controlled and constrained by others.

Argument: Play, in its simplest form is occupation in which a child (or adult) engages in for fun, because she wants to do so. Play that is self-directed has multiple benefits to health and well-being; enabling the child to express herself, develop her identity be and become in the world. However, in some contexts, play has become regimented and rule-bound, limiting these occupational dimensions. Children with physical disabilities have often been deprived of play occupations, in part because of our inability to create ways in which they can play or to recognize the ways in which they do play. Tension results from attempts to achieve a balance between providing contexts that afford opportunity to engage in play while also ensuring choice, control and self expression in and through play.

Importance to Occupational Science: Uncovering and reflecting on the historical discourse of play has implications to the dimensions of doing, being, becoming and belonging of children with physical disabilities. If occupation expresses who we are and are becoming, then discourse that institutionalizes play constrains the child’s ability to be and belong in the world as experienced through play. Further, the analysis has implications to occupational justice and the rights of children with disabilities to engage in play of their choice.

Conclusion: Analysis of the discourse of play in key historical and current literature, from an occupational lens, reveals how play of children with disabilities is constructed. It challenges us to create contexts that enable engagement in this important childhood occupation.

Objectives for Discussion Period:

  1. Discuss the implications of the themes derived from the analysis in terms of how they influence our thinking about engagement in play by children with physical disabilities.
  2. Discuss the tension between providing opportunities and contexts that enable play, such as the use of assistive technology, while also maintaining the child’s choice in and control over the context.
  3. Discuss additional ideas of play as occupation of children with physical disabilities that were not uncovered by the analysis presented.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does an occupational lens re-shape our conceptualization of play of children with significant physical impairments? What challenges does it create for enabling play occupation for these children?
  2. What role does assistive technology play, both for enabling control and choice in play occupations and alternately, for limiting choice in these occupations?
  3. Are there other concepts of play or occupation that have relevance to this discussion?