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Episode #029: Play-Based Therapy – A Conversation with Emily Cohen

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Play Based Speech Therapy can open the door to so much interaction. My guest, Emily Cohen, talks about using Play Based Therapy with her clients and all of the benefits it can provide. Emily Cohen works with families with children as young as 15 months old, coaching the parents. We talk about all the elements of play, interaction, and language and I share some pretty cute anecdotes from my therapy experiences with play. 

Engagement is such a huge part, and the more they are engaged the more meaningful their learning will be. Imitation and nonverbal imitation can be the start of engaging in play. Emily shares the idea of a mirror “game”,  sitting in front of a mirror practicing making large body movements and even using hand over hand when needed. 

Patience, flexibility, and following the child’s lead is key when creating an engaging play space for therapy. Kids may not always use or interpret toys or activities in the way we expect things which can make for even more enriching experiences.

Stay away from toys that have batteries. When we are interacting with a child and a toy that has all the bells and whistles, moving and making noise, the toy ends up doing the work. Go back to basics and  allow the student to use the toy as a prop, so that you can truly build new and meaningful interaction.

Interaction comes before language, so there are so many opportunities for skills in play even nonverbally. As a speech therapist, Emily coaches parents on playing with their children and working with their kids to find these opportunities. Her advice for parents is to remind them that they are their child’s best teacher, every time their child is watching them is an opportunity for learning.

What’s Inside:

  • Play Based Speech Therapy
  • Following the child’s lead
  • Open-Ended Toys
  • Facilitating social, play, and language interaction
  • Interaction before language

Today’s Guest:

Emily Cohen, MA CCC-SLP is the founder of Tandem Speech Therapy, a pediatric speech therapy practice serving the Austin, TX area. While an undergraduate at Indiana University—Bloomington, Emily studied special education. Upon graduating, she worked in the public schools for a few years before returning for a Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology. Although Emily enjoyed teaching, her favorite part of her job was forming meaningful relationships with kids and their families. She knew she could help even more families as a speech-language pathologist.  Her previous work with kids with special needs continues to inform her pediatric speech therapy practice. In 2018, Emily self-published the book Playing With Purpose which supports caregivers in their journey to build speech and language skills in children through play. When she’s not working, Emily loves to travel, cook and eat, and stroll through Zilker Park with her husband and their dog. 

Mentioned In This Episode

— @ABASpeechByRose
Tandem Speech Therapy
Tandem Speech Therapy on Instagram
Tandem Speech Therapy on Facebook
Playing With Purpose
IEP Goal Bank

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