I can't really describe the feeling of elation that I get when my clients learn to play. For many children with Autism, abstract thinking (that is vital to play) is extremely difficult; for others, everything they see if symbolic (ask me to explain to you The Brown C), so part of my job is helping them learn to play, both functionally, socially, and imaginatively.
While some adults may find it rather humiliating to run around on their hands and knees barking like a dog and picking up a ball with their teeth, or using their arm as a trunk and giving elephant kisses; I simply love it. I love the excitement in a child's eyes (and sometimes in their flapping hands) when they learn to roll over and pant with their tongue hanging out.
And today, after yet another session of Zookeeper & Elephant with my favorite little boy (yes, I have favorites), I came home and saw this post on TED that gave me such a rush of energy---it would have been an AHA moment, had I not already known it to be SO true!
Check it out!
A pioneer in research on play, Dr. Stuart Brown says humor, games, roughhousing, flirtation and fantasy are more than just fun. Plenty of play in childhood makes for happy, smart adults -- and keeping it up can make us smarter at any age.
So get out there and PLAY!