My mother had just passed away, and I felt lost. My father found an older couple to babysit my sister and me after school so he could work. One of the other children they babysat was a little girl about my age. She had developmental disabilities and did not speak very much. She was standing and waiting in the driveway almost every day when the school bus dropped me off at the babysitter's house. I remember not knowing what to say to her or even how to act, but looking forward to seeing her there waiting. One day when I got off the bus, she was holding a ball. She threw the ball toward me, and it dropped to the ground. I did not know what to say to her, but I knew what to do with a ball. She laughed and then moved her arms forward to try to catch it. The ball landed on the grass again. She picked it up and threw it back at me. I caught the ball and returned her laugh. Her willingness to engage me in a game of catch started a connection that was a childhood lifeline for me. Many years later when I became an occupational therapist, I thought of Sheila and how powerful the act of participating in a simple game of catch was to my life. It wasn't until I began my career that I could reflect on how powerful it was to her life also. In my early career, I returned to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin where I participated in a leadership training program at the Waisman Center in Madison. As part of that program, I was assigned to a family who had a little boy with neurological difficulties. I was assigned to the family not as a therapist but rather as another family member. I ate dinner with them from time to time, went to the park with them, was there at bedtime, and even babysat on some occasions. By being with this little boy and his family during everyday activities, I could see how sensory processing and communication difficulties impacted his daily life and how things that were enticing and fun for other children were a reason for fear and avoidance to him. But I also saw firsthand how his parents used sensory strategies, in the form of play, to help him engage with the people in his life. With both of these memories, the big Aha for me is the power that play has to teach, develop, and connect children to their world. I cannot say enough about interactive, physical play as a basis for teaching children skills that are fundamental to their physical and social world and to their cognitive capabilities. The dynamic nature of play spurs nervous system development by connecting the brain and the body. In addition to my own experience, research has shown that there is no substitute for play for promoting learning at the nervous system level, as well as for teaching more refined language, social, and cognitive concepts. During play, children are provided the opportunity to use their bodies to manipulate objects in their physical world, which is the only way to truly understand the physical and spatial properties of their world. Because of play's interactive nature, it sets the perfect stage for teaching language concepts and reinforcing an intuitive understanding of others. As a pediatric occupational therapist, I have spent the last two decades working with children who have neurological difficulties. I realized many years ago that a child's motivation to participate in an activity is one of the most important factors in determining successful engagement. Successful engagement is the first step to learning. It is with this idea in mind that I created games or adapted activities that focus on particular skills and are highly enjoyable to children. I developed this model as a way to explain to parents and educators how important our early experiences are for future academic and social success. The experiences that we engage in during our early years of life introduce, develop, and refine skills that our brains and bodies will need to access throughout our lives.