Happy Better Speech-Language-Hearing and Swallowing Month!
When deciding on what to post or blog for this month’s theme, I went to ASHA’s website for ideas. This year’s recommendations are focused on the COVID-19 Pandemic the impacts we all face. At first, I thought I would probably best serve others along those same lines. Perhaps I could talk about telehealth and what an unexpected fun and rewarding learning experience that has been, hopefully, to parent and therapist alike. But, then, I came across a timely little article in this month’s ASHA Leader Publication, that immediately made me think of Mother’s Day, which we observed earlier this month. So, in honor of both BHBS Month and Mother’s Day, let me share what I found so exciting and relevant to what we do as therapists and what you do as parents…PLAY!
Play: A study from Princeton University found that “during face-to-face (play) time, the babies’ brains and adults’ brains synchronized in several areas, including the prefrontal cortex.” Researchers found this by using a new dual brain imaging system. The prefrontal cortex is a part of the brain that is involved in learning and executive functions. Furthermore, the study found that the babies were actually leading the play, and the adults would respond accordingly. The study consisted of 18 children, 9-15 months old. Though this is a small study, I found it to be quite supportive of what we do therapeutically. During both in-person treatments and teletherapy sessions, we promote guided play and increasing parent’s awareness of what the subtleties of nonverbal communication may be indicating.
So, in appreciation of all those mothers, mothers-to-be, fathers, and any caregiver of a young child (and older child for that matter), have fun playing with your children. Take the time to play with your children. It not only helps their brains grow and develop; it’s making us “smarter,” too. I hope that whoever is reading this will never again think of ooing, cooing, and gooing, making silly faces, and playing peek-a-boo as anything less than lovingly educational. I hope you had a wonderful Happy Mother’s Day, and Happy (soon-to-be) Father’s Day!
In appreciation for all caregivers,
Marilyn Hart, MA, CCC-SLP