First of all, the Hughes Brothers admire the length of the title. It explains exactly what the book intends to do and, by and large, the book achieves its ends. Written by Barbara Sher, the book is a resource alright: full of games to be played with children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD).
The Games Lady
Barbara Sher is an internationally acclaimed occupational therapist who has specialized in developing children’s natural love of play to enhance sensory, motor and social skills. It seems that happy children over the years, around the world have shouted “Here comes The Games Lady!” upon her arrival at a classroom door, have greeted her so often that she now identifies by that nickname. Ms. Sher emphasizes spontaneity and playful movement, using simple materials, throwaways and recyclables repurposed in endless variations, as learning toys that encourage the retention of lifelong skills. Most of all, the games help children feel comfortable in social situations. Assured that other people welcome and respect and enjoy them, encouraging children to be themselves.
Ms. Sher has conducted workshops around the world, inviting parents and teachers and therapist and children to learn again the wonders of play. Early Intervention Games stands among nine books she has written and compiled, books now translated into ten lanugauges.
The party line.
The Hughes Brothers’ have borrowed heavily in our description of the book from its own marketing materials. Now we take a look at the book just before The Games Lady comes through the door. A frequent complaint came from teachers and therapists with long experience in dealing with children with special needs. These professionals were looking for new games, for games that were not already part of their programs. That said, the Hughes Brothers understand that many ideas in the book more closely resembled, oh, “activities” or “crafts.” So perhaps Ms. Sher’s Games moniker creates some expectations where the word “play” might more closely identify the book’s context.
Other parents, those with children whose disorder falls toward the far extreme of the SDS bell-curve, are happy with the book – knowing that no one source of ideas – can completely address the needs of these particular kids. They found useful ideas here and there throughout the book, without the requirement that it would provide an end-all sort of play.
Still worth the purchase price.
We’ll conclude with a strong recommendation of the book. For these reasons.
· The games can, they truly can, improve the lives of children with autism.
· The games work well in all sorts of interactions – parent with child, teacher with a large group of children, therapist with child.
· The games do assist in the development of hand-eye coordination, of motor and language skills.
· Some of the games adapt well to play in the water: a backyard wading pool, a community swimming pool, a nearby lake.
· The materials used in the game-playing could not be more inexpensive, more readily available.
· The games are free-flowing, adaptable, workable in multiple variations so that all children – regardless of skill level or sensibilities — can be included, all can enjoy.
· The games do extend neuroscientists’ certainty that play can become a profound biological process, capable of shaping and enlarging the brain; meanwhile, the kiddos are just having fun.
· The games profit from Ms. Sher’s shared advice, her gentle and welcoming manner, her obvious concern for the children she seeks to help.
· The games seem to respect the strengths, the individual personalities of children; no lumping together here; the book makes room for youngsters with all kinds of interests.
Read. Learn. Have fun.
Please come to Early Intervention Games with an open heart, with a suspended sense of disbelief. That is, come to this book like a kid.