Each Week OT expert, Sarit Tresser will be giving an in-depth insightful analysis into the various ways Health Games aid children with disabilities. Stay connected to receive first-hand input from a professional in the field of child development
One of the main concerns that surface as a result of using the Virtual Environment (VE) for therapy is knowing how to make a transfer and generalize the skills acquired in the VE into the activities of daily living.
The main goal of the therapy is to create a change in the child’s performance and participation in every day activities. Therefore it is important to remember that the VE is a part of the process and not the goal itself. If we know how to use the VE wisely we will be able to leverage the child’s sense of success and achievements gained from the game, and towards improvements in daily life.
Mostly, just by being involved in a positive experience and gaining a sense of success can increase the child self-efficacy and confidence which encourage him to participate in other activities that the child once avoided in the past.
Even if a spontaneous improvement will appear, the therapist has a vital role in generalizing the abilities into every day context.
The therapist, with experience and knowledge, can use specific elements from the VE and integrate them into the therapy session. For example, after playing with the Balloon game from “Growing with Timocco VE the therapist can turn to another activity with real balloons. This is achieved through the use of balloons in different colors and shapes the child can paint on them, throw, catch them and so on. Another example is using the characters of the game in order to increase motivation for drawing and painting. One can draw Timocco the Monkey and add his family to the painting or draw his playground, the balloons, or pictures from Timocco’s photo album.
Another type of generalization is based on the child’s awareness to the borders of his body that were established while playing in the VE. The child is required to have full control over his movements and moderate movements to produce a precise and accurate motion, therefore the learning is meaningful and can be transferred into another activity which requires motion mediation, such as painting. After 10 minutes working with Timocco, one can present a painting task and to help the child understand the connection between his motor learning in the VE and the control of hand movements in this task. Since the child experience the feedbacks from Timocco with his own Body movement the verbal direction of the therapist to “slow down” or “make smaller movements” will make more sense to him after experience it with on his.
Another idea is to use the Timocco sensors – the gloves in different contexts, such as using them with “ball pool” and encourage the child to distinguish between the Timocco balls and the plastic balls of the pool just according to its texture.