The Power of Play: Therapeutic Benefit of Games for Children with Disabilities

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My family LOVES board games – we’ve played them for years. Now, I understand the therapeutic benefits games have for my daughter with disabilities. Looking back, I can see how playing games helped my daughter in various ways. For example, she is a pro at adding up scores in Farkle, and when she was young, Candy Land helped her identify colors. Understanding winning strategy, good sportsmanship and taking turns are important skills that playing games helped to foster.

images shows a board game
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Games play a crucial role in the development and well-being of children with disabilities. Not only do they provide entertainment and fun, but they also offer numerous therapeutic benefits. In fact, BioPsychoSocial Medicine found that board games have positive effects on various outcomes, including educational knowledge, cognitive functions, physical activity, anxiety, ADHD symptoms, and the severity of Alzheimer’s Disease.

In this article, we will explore how healthcare professionals incorporate games into their practice to support children with disabilities. We will also discuss how parents can leverage these games to enhance their child’s growth and learning.

I. Games in Pediatric healthcare

Games have become an integral part of pediatric healthcare, helping healthcare professionals engage and connect with children while addressing their specific needs. Let’s explore some examples of games commonly used by healthcare professionals:

  1. Sensory Games:
    Focus on stimulating the senses and enhancing sensory integration in children with disabilities. For instance, “Sensory Bingo” incorporates various sensory experiences like touch, smell, and sound, promoting cognitive development and sensory exploration.
  2. Motor Skills Games:
    Aim to improve coordination, balance, and fine motor skills. “Obstacle Course Challenge” is a game where children navigate through an obstacle course, enhancing their physical abilities and motor planning skills.
  3. Communication Games:
    Foster language development and social interaction. “Guess the Emotion” involves guessing different emotions based on facial expressions, helping children with disabilities understand and express emotions effectively.
  4. Cognitive Games:
    Focus on enhancing cognitive abilities, such as memory, attention, and problem-solving. “Memory Match” is a classic game that challenges children to match pairs of cards, stimulating memory and concentration skills.

II. Harnessing Games at Home:

Parents of children with disabilities can also utilize games to support their child’s growth and development. Here’s how:

  1. Play-Based Learning:
    Incorporate educational games that align with your child’s developmental goals. For example, “Storytelling Game” can improve language skills and creativity, as your child creates and narrates stories using picture cards.
  2. Social Games:
    Engage in social games that encourage interaction and socialization. Games like “Charades” or “Simon Says” promote communication, turn-taking, and following instructions while having fun together.
  3. Digital Games and Apps:
    Explore interactive and accessible digital games designed specifically for children with disabilities. There are numerous apps available that focus on various skills, such as reading, math, and problem-solving. “ABCmouse” or “Endless Reader” are excellent examples.
  4. Adaptation and Modification:
    Modify existing games to accommodate your child’s abilities. Use larger game pieces, provide visual aids, or simplify rules to ensure inclusivity and promote active participation.


Games have emerged as a powerful tool in the realm of pediatric healthcare and at-home interventions for children with disabilities. Healthcare professionals leverage games to foster development in various domains, while parents can harness the benefits of games to support their child’s growth and learning. By incorporating these games into their practice and daily routines, healthcare professionals and parents can create engaging and inclusive environments where children with disabilities can thrive and reach their full potential.

Remember, every child is unique, so adapt the games to suit your child’s specific needs, interests, and abilities. Embrace the joy of play and watch your child flourish!

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