While I have been describing sensory issues and links to the physical environment, there are people out there who have actually been doing things about these issues. Ingrid M. Kanics, OTR/L, an Occupational Therapist and play advocate, has been speaking at conferences about inclusive play. I first learned about her at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) in Washington, DC, last September when she presented “A Higher Level of Inclusion: Trends in Playground Design.” There she showed examples of play equipment that was not only directed towards the main population of children but, finally, towards those children whose sensitivities ranged from hypo (too sensitive) to hyper (not sensitive enough). Kanics pointed out that this latter group, while small in size compared to the entire population of children, had sensitivities that prevented them from playing on typical playgrounds, never mind playing with other children. By providing equipment that supported children of all abilities, Kanics maintained, we support play for children of all abilities.
Interestingly, members of the audience began to ask whether such play equipment could support therapies for older children and adults, especially older people with developmental delays who need different forms of physical exercise from their peers. While playground manufacturers have not been marketing in this area, representatives from Landscape Structures, the company that has been sponsoring research in play structures for disabled people, indicated that they are looking at this issue as well.
Ingrid M. Kanic’s powerpoint handout (accessed April 13, 2011 from the Internet):
Other Kanic articles:
Landscape Structures’ Advisory Committee:
Blogs that discuss Kanic’s work and sensory issues:
Next: Affordances in the Physical Environment