Pathways to Play! Combining Sensory Integration and Integrated Play Groups

Pathways to Play

Author: Glenda Fuge and Rebecca Berry
Publishing Info: 2004
Reviewed by Maureen Bennie : Director, Autism Awareness Centre Inc.

Authors Rebecca Berry, a physical therapist, and Glenda Fuge, an occupational therapist, have created Pathways to Play – 40 activities for children ages 4 to 12 that explore sensory integration strategies within the context of the Integrated Play Group, created by Pamela Wolfberg. Integrated play groups of three to five children include typical peers who are the expert players and a child with autism spectrum disorder.

Several things can be accomplished using the Pathways to Play program. The program builds circles of communication and social language skills, functional IEP goals can be worked on, skills are generalized across environments, documentation of social and play skills progress in a peer setting, and mainstreaming opportunities are maximized.

Pathways to Play begins with an overview of the 7 sensory systems: tactile system, vestibular, proprioceptive, auditory system, visual system, olfactory, and gustatory. Each sensory system has a yellow highlighted area that outlines the problems a child with an autism spectrum disorder will experience. A chart is provided of how to activate each sensory system and what its function is. The Sensory Processing Motor Deficits chart has an area for observable behaviors such as distractibility and impulsivity balanced by the use of play supports, or how to create a productive play environment. An example of play supports would be using clear boundaries or visual cues or keeping the area uncluttered.

Fuge and Berry explore the environmental side of play groups and provide a number of helpful hints such as finding optimal times to work with the child, consider the age and development of the child, how to organize the play space, and safety concerns with the activities. A play materials resource list is provided and some websites of where to find the materials. Many occupational therapists will have the materials like a platform swing, a peanut ball, a bean bag chair, and a hammock swing.

Assessment tools to use with the program are listed with some tools provided in the book. A problem solving worksheet has strengths, areas of concerns, questions, goals and objectives, and treatment plan. A completed worksheet provides a model.

The 40 activities are outlined on a chart marked with an “x” for which developmental foundations they encompass. Each activity has facilitator prompts (what you say), a materials list (coded in blue), the sensory system addressed highlighted in red along the bottom of the page, and a worksheet page on the back page of each play theme. The worksheet page has a section for notes, materials, set-up, and supplies. The activities encourage imagination and use situations and themes from a child’s life such as going to the car wash, playing Wild, Wild, West, and taking a pet to the animal hospital.

Pathways to Play provides a sound model of how to merge sensory integration and integrated playgroups for successful occupational therapy and social skill building sessions. It offers a functional fun way to incorporate sensory integration into a program.

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