Play brings the world to life. When children play, they learn about themselves and the things around them. They hone their creativity and imagination. They also develop cognitive, social, language and motor skills.
Recognising the value of providing equal play opportunities for all children, the early intervention teams from SPD Ability Centre and SPD@Jurong piloted the Special Time programme with the National Library Board (NLB).
Aimed at promoting inclusion, Special Time provides an avenue for children with and without special needs to interact meaningfully through play. The first two sessions were held in May and June at the Jurong Regional Library and attended by more than 20 children and their caregivers.
Often, off-the-shelf toys come with small levers and switches that are difficult for children with physical disabilities to operate. The toys at the sessions have been modified to make them accessible to these children. By replacing the small switches with large buttons, children with physical challenges can play with greater ease.
As the children entered the play area, they were greeted by a variety of modified toys, such as a talking minion, a roaming elephant and musical instruments.
Besides button switches, there are other types of adaptive switches that can be used to activate a toy, catering to children with different needs. For example, a string switch that controls by pulling, a grasp switch which activates by gripping and a peg switch that triggers by pinching. The children were fascinated by how a common household item like a peg can be adapted to become a switch for a toy. They were even more intrigued when they could change and connect different types of switches to operate the toys.
While the children were engaged with the toys, our professionals explained to the parents about the purpose of this programme and the benefits of modified toys to children with special needs. Through this, parents gained a better understanding of children with special needs and the importance of inclusive play.
“I believe that this collaboration can help to make the library a more inclusive place for the community. We also aim to increase the public’s understanding of children with special needs and the resources that we can use to help our children learn. I hope that families with children with special needs will feel welcomed when learning and playing at the library,” shared senior EIPIC teacher Hasliah Hashim.
It was heartening to see children of all abilities having fun together. We look forward to having more children and families join us in the upcoming sessions.
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