P.L.A.Y. Project
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Introduction

The P.L.A.Y. Project Home Consulting Program provides training and support for families of children with autism right in their home. Trained consultants teach parents techniques that are effective, fun, and useful in day-to-day interactions with their child with autism. By providing training in the home, consultants see the family in an environment where the child feels comfortable, rather than in a setting unfamiliar and possibly intimidating to the child.

The P.L.A.Y. Project was created by Dr. Rick Solomon in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This program is practical application of the DIR/Floortime model of Stanley Greenspan MD, a nationally respected child psychiatrist. The P.L.A.Y. Project has been piloted with families in sites all over the Midwest and is currently offered by more than 60 agencies, schools and hospitals located in 22 states. The Consultants have degrees in child development fields (for example Speech, OT, Psychology, Social Work, or Special Education) and receive intensive training by Dr. Solomon and his supervisory staff in the DIR/P.L.A.Y. Project model, prior to working with families. After this training they then make 3-hour visits approximately monthly to families’ homes to teach parents how to provide intensive, one-on-one, play-based services to their young children with autism. (Some centers provide 1-hour per week of training instead of longer monthly sessions, but usually the parents will travel to the agency for these alternative schedules.)

You can receive additional information about the P.L.A.Y. Project and Home Consulting Programs in you community by visiting the P.L.A.Y. Project website at playproject.org.

Rationale for The P.L.A.Y. Project

Parents spend more time with their children than all of their teachers and therapist combined. By training parents to be their child’s best P.L.A.Y. partner, the child receives intensive (more hours of), high quality intervention. We recommend that parents and other caregivers, once trained by our Home Consultant, then apply themselves for 2 hours per day PLAYing with their child’ this can usually be done in multiple 20-minute sessions. This can be a very enjoyable time with your child. Our Consultants show you practical ways of making every interaction with your child a growing and learning experience. Bath-time, meals, outdoor play: each of these daily routines can be used to help your child build meaningful relationships.

Home visits allow the Consultant to see your child in the place where he/she is most comfortable, so the consultant can see how he/she acts most naturally. The Home Consultant will video tape segments of the home visits, to monitor your child’s progress and vie suggestions for more effective techniques. This allows the Home Consultant and your family to design and implement an individual P.L.A.Y. Skill Sequence for your child. The P.L.A.Y. Project DVD is the best introduction to the P.L.A.Y. Skill Sequence (this can be purchased on our website; go to www.playproject.org and select the DVD button, then purchase). We recommend that families view the DVD as a first step in beginning the P.L.A.Y. Project.

Home Consultation typically includes:

  • Family support
  • 10 visits per year (the range equals 8-12)
  • 3 hour sessions roughly divided between 1 hour of modeling, 1 hour of coaching the family and 1 hour of feedback.
  • Selected videotaping of P.L.A.Y. interactions with written evaluations and feedback
  • Assistance with IFSP or IEP Goals
  • Online services through RelateNow.com
The Home Consulting Program has a through program evaluation that includes:
  • Periodic surveys to assess family satisfaction with consulting services.
  • Documentation of progress using a combination of family information, various questionnaires/ assessments and video rating scales.
  • Resources for families-handouts and referrals to other types of comprehensive therapies (Speech & Language, Occupational Therapy, etc.) if needed

First Visit

The first visit provides an opportunity for the Home Consultant and your child and family to begin to get to know each other. The Home Consultant can explain some of the basic elements of what will occur during the home visits. Background information is collected to ascertain current services that the child is receiving, and to establish baseline for autistic behaviors and level of cognitive, language, adaptive, social and sensory functioning for your child. These assessment and intake forms can occupy 1.5 to 2.5 hours of the first visit. If you have not attended a Level 1 seminar or reviewed the P.L.A.Y. Project DVD, you will be given an overview of the presentation (approximately 1 hour).

P.L.A.Y.

After the completion of the assessments you will be asked to play with your child as you usually do. Your Home Consultant will videotape a 15-20 minute segment of you playing with your child. During this time you just play how you would normally play with your child. You will not be given any instructions during this segment of play. The purpose of this is to get an idea of how you naturally play with your child. If there is time after the assessment and filming, your P.L.A.Y. Consultant will play with your child and model various P.L.A.Y. techniques. One of the important benefits of the home visits is that your Home Consultant can model techniques with your child’s own toys making it very easy for you to understand how to apply the techniques. After your visit, your P.L.A.Y. Consultant will send you a copy of the videotape taken at the time of this visit along with an assessment and supplemental handouts that might be helpful.

Your second and subsequent home visits will follow the guidelines described above, i.e., 3-hour sessions with videotaping Home visits allow the Consultant to see your child in the place where he/she is most comfortable, so the Consultant can see how he/she acts most naturally. The Home Consultant will coach parents on how to PLAY more effectively with your child with autism. This type of PLAY assists the child to work through the core deficits of autism. The Consultant will also videotape segments of the home visits, to monitor your child’s progress and give suggestions for more effective techniques, followed by audio and written feedback reports.

Cost of the P.L.A.Y. Project Home Consultation

Since the parents provide most of the hours of intensive intervention the P.L.A.Y. Project can be offered at a cost that is affordable for many families and County Boards of Developmental Disabilities.

For more information on pricing please contact Lynn Wolters at information@westcondd.org or 937-492-3958.

Research Evidence for the P.L.A.Y. Project

Dr. Solomon has evaluated 68 children, each enrolled for 8-12 months of intervention in The P.L.A.Y. Project at the University of Michigan. The results showed that 47% of the children made good to very good progress (increasing 1 to 1.5 functional developmental levels during the study) and 32% made fair progress. The research paper has been published in May 2007 by the peer-reviewed British journal, Autism. A copy is available upon request.

Two intensive Interventions — The P.L.A.Y. Project Compared with ABA

Research evidence shows that children with autism spectrum disorders do best when they receive intensive intervention. There are two basic types-behavioral, such as ABA (also know as Applied Behavioral Analysis) and developmental, such as The P.L.A.Y. Project. In general terms we recommend that younger children benefit most from PLAY which provided the opportunity for them to develop joyful engaging relationships and communication with their parents and peers. Once the child has reached a level of social and language development then we recommend adding ABA to strengthen skills and get ready for school. These approaches are complementary and many children can benefit from receiving both.

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