Parallel Play

June 28, 2009

Parallel play

Parallel play

Parallel play is when two children are playing the same play frame, but not collaborating with one another or influencing one another’s play directly.

Rather than through negotiation, the two children’s play frames are synchronized and coordinated by imitation. You often see one child repeating the same action that another child does. (Classic Vygotsky: the play frame is in their ZPD and they are learning how to act in it from one another).

This poses problems for kids with disabilities: #1: their motor and linguistic capacity to imitate.

Can our kid actually perform the physical actions of driving the car up the ramp or putting a dress on Barbie? This is a problem (but is a little out of my universe as an SLP. I’ll let the OT and Rec Therapists work on this one).

Can a child using AAC imitate something that another child says that sounds interesting?

No.

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Last post I talked about metaplay as an important type of language output that is particularly difficult to program into AAC due to its unpredictability and dynamicism.

The imaginary reality that children are engaging in is referred to as a play frame. The play frame can be something established and obvious (I’ll call these “off-the-rack frames”) or it can be something improvised in the moment. If the children are playing House, that’s mostly an off-the-rack frame that we can mostly prepare for. If the House gets overrun by zombies (or worse, as my 7-year-old cousin decided, zombies piloting robot armor suits) our off-the-rack AAC programming for the House frame is going to be inadequate.

The end goal here is to make the AAC system programmed by the players as part of the play. Play frames are co-constructed, so talk about the play frames needs to be co-constructed as well.The action in the play itself programs the device.

I'm the store worker, okay? Pretend you're buying something from me.

I'm the store worker, okay? Pretend you're buying something from me.

And, no, I haven’t the foggiest idea how to implement that in the Real World™. I’ve talked to the foremost experts in the field of AAC and none of them know how either (if they think about it at all). It certainly isn’t possible with the hardware and software available today, nor do current attitudes regarding AAC held by professionals doing the teaching lend themselves to implementing something this radical.

I do have some ideas for how we can structure an off-the-rack schematic setup in an existing AAC system. Here is something that you can use today to make a schematic theme for play within a specific play frame.

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Metaplay

June 3, 2009

Disclaimer: Please excuse the half-formed randomness in this post

Imaginary play shares a lot of features with improvisational theater. It is an emerging narrative that no one participant controls, turns are dynamic and responsive from moment-to-moment, and, most frustrating to programming AAC, the meaning of any action may change as the result of future actions!

Example:

Children are playing in dressup area:

Child 1: takes coat from coat rack and puts it on.

Child 2: Are you going to work? Have a nice day.

Same scene, different narrative:

Children are playing in dressup area:

Child 1: takes coat from coat rack and puts it on.

Child 2: That’s on sale today. Eleventeen percent off.

One child initiates an action and the second child defines the meaning of that action. This is why “scripts” in an AAC system can’t work. A child needs to be able to keep up with an uncertain, unfolding narrative. If the first child had an AAC system, if that system was set for “playing house,” it would be useless in crafting a response to Child 2 in the second example.

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