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The Hood Magazine

The Benefits of Play

Oct 27, 2014 03:10PM ● By Hood Magazine

Photo courtesy of Children's Museum of South Dakota

By Randy Grimsley, Director of Marketing at the Children’s Museum of South Dakota  


Playtime is the business of childhood. It allows the child free reign to experiment with the world around him and the emotional world inside, according to Linda Acredolo, professor of psychology at the University of California at Davis.

What looks like simply having a good time is actually much more than that. Skill building, problem solving, and overcoming challenges all occur during play.

But for many, play brings on other unique concerns. It is estimated that 5-16% of school age children have Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD). These sensory issues may make group play overwhelming at times as the child is unable to self-regulate the sensory input all around him/her.

While parents often see the signs before such breakdowns occur, they can pop up at any time. Many schools have quiet rooms for the student to regroup. Some child-friendly destinations may offer tools to assist, should a parent be caught off guard.

“We recently added an official toolbox of items like sensory vests, picture cards and noise reducing headphones,” Associate Director of the Children’s Museum of South Dakota Mike Mogard said.

“As a destination location that welcomes thousands of people from all over, we don’t personally know all of the visitors. So we train our staff and have this toolbox that is available for any visitor to use to help make their experience the best possible.”

The benefits of play far outweigh any negative breakdowns that may occur. Play builds imagination, promotes social skills and relationships, relieves stress, improves brain function, and more. Indeed, a lot of work gets done during playtime.


Adaptive Equipment Toolbox

Check with your area museum or learning center to see if the following list of adaptive equipment is offered. A growing number of locations may have such items available for visitors with SPD.

  • Noise Reducing Headphones
  • Universal Cuffs
  • Transition Timers
  • Picture Cards with Map
  • Wrist/Ankle Weights
  • Sensory Vest
  • Fidget Items
  • Sensory Brushes
  • Sunglasses