This study evaluates the effect of a series of play therapy sessions on specific behaviour patterns and learning ability in ten year old dyslexic boys who display oppositional defiant behaviours in the classroom. Specifically, the study tests behavioural, learning, social/interactive and psychosomatic indicators which may affect learning and evaluates three dimensions of learning ability in literacy. This comes from the hypothesis that the behaviour of the child in the classroom affects learning.
Three primary research methods are used: The Drumcondra Primary Reading Test to assess learning ability, a modified Connors Teacher Rating Scale to measure oppositional defiant behaviours and a House-Tree-Person drawing to assess a child’s perception of self and others. A secondary research method designed by the researcher, the Play Therapy Interaction Scale, is used to specifically record positive/negative indicators of interaction so that any observable changes in expression and interaction during play therapy sessions can be recorded systematically.
Study participants are white Irish, male aged ten years, of low socio-economic status, from single parent families and living in a rural area.
On completion of the study, results demonstrate a distinct decrease in oppositional defiant behaviours being exhibited and a clear improvement in learning ability manifested in standardised literacy scores. This indicates that the use of play within a therapeutic setting is effective in supporting positive behaviour and the ability to learn at school.