Helpful Resources for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities and Their Families

Are you an individual or a family member of someone with developmental disabilities and are in need of support services? Contact your local County Board of Developmental Disabilities to see what types of services are provided in your county of residence.

If you are a parent or family member of a child with autism, read below to learn more about how the PLAY project can help.

The PLAY Project: Training and Support for Families of Children with Autism

The PLAY Project organization offers research-based autism programs that focus on play and relationships to support the social and emotional growth of the child with autism. PLAY Project methods, techniques, and principles are the foundation for PLAY Autism intervention. Professionals who offer PLAY Autism Intervention are trained and credentialed by the PLAY Project organization.


Research for PLAY

The PLAY Project uses evidence-based best practices. The PLAY Autism Intervention’s parent-implemented early intervention model has excellent scientific evidence for its effectiveness.

In 2014, the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics published the results of a randomized controlled trial of the program. This large-scale study demonstrated significant improvement in:

  • Children’s autism severity
  • Social-emotional development of children with autism
  • Parent and child interactions
  • Reduction in parent stress and depression

Benefits to Children

PLAY Autism Intervention helps young children improve their language, development, behavior, social skills and autism severity.

Play is the way children learn best. The PLAY Project model helps young children grow and develop through playful interactions.

Benefits to Parents

You and your Certified PLAY Consultant become partners in your child’s progress. You receive individual coaching that empowers you to have a closer, more satisfying relationship with your child.

You will learn to:

  • Identify you child’s unique strengths and needs
  • Make every interaction a growing and learning experience
  • Effectively respond to your child’s behavior
  • Prepare your child for kindergarten

PLAY is a parent-implemented autism intervention, meaning that you gain the skills you need to support your child’s social-emotional growth. Research shows that children on the autism spectrum have more success when parents are empowered to provide intervention at home.

Parents can learn effective strategies for engagement, so that their children receive intensive intervention throughout the day. The PLAY techniques and methods become a regular part of family life.

No. PLAY can be helpful for any child showing concerns with social interaction, engagement, and/or communication.

Families must be willing to invest daily PLAY intervention time with a goal of 1-2 hours per day. Families must also be willing to sign a consent form for videotaping.

During visits, you and the PLAY Project Consultant engage your child in playful activities. Our consultants show you practical ways to make 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 improve communication and build meaningful relationships.

In between coaching and modeling, the PLAY Project Consultant will assess your child’s progress and videotape short playful interactions between you and your child.   This monthly video analysis helps the PLAY Project Consultant develop an ongoing PLAY Plan with individualized suggestions and recommendations for you to help your child keep making progress.

Teaching PLAY is implementing PLAY within the classroom setting. The program is designed to support teaching staff through coaching and modeling within the classroom’s routine and structure. Children with Autism learn differently from both typical children and children with cognitive impairments. Teaching PLAY addresses social impairment by focusing on the interactional process and how this leads to learning readiness.

Teaching PLAY is not a curriculum, but a developmental lens to apply in any educational environment.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (also known as ABA) is another intensive intervention model for children with autism spectrum disorders. This approach complements the PLAY Program and strengthens skills as children prepare for school.

Want to know the difference between PLAY & ABA? Read this helpful document that outlines the differences.

PLAY Testimonials

The [Teaching PLAY] training, watching other staff members implement the strategies with children… all helped to give me more ideas on how to approach the child and engage the child. The training also helped me be more effective with children who do not stay in interactions long or who wander around the classroom.”


In my 30 years in special education, I feel [Teaching PLAY] has been the most beneficial in reaching our students with autism.”


“It’s as simple as learning to read cues and having ‘tricks in your bag’ to use when you need them. It becomes almost automatic once you’ve mastered [the PLAY] techniques. It’s innate. It’s successful and it’s wonderful!”


"Instead of having to deal with meltdowns, I learned how to prevent them. Instead of attempting to get the child to ‘fit’ into the classroom, I learned to make the classroom ‘fit’ her. We had good days and bad, just as anyone does, but I found myself excited to implement the new techniques and try my best to ‘read’ her, to get into her world and to want to be better for her.”


PLAY Project has helped us learn how to engage with our son and how to keep him engaged with us. We use all of the [PLAY] strategies given to us and it makes it easier to play with him.”

Amber W., Parent

“The PLAY Project was so valuable to us during a very difficult couple of years. It helped us to become a stronger family.”


PLAY absolutely changed our interactions with our child. The difference is remarkable and it was almost immediate. I recommend this approach to all families, not just families dealing with developmental delays. It’s wholly a better way to interact and facilitated much more meaningful exchanges in our family.”


We feel so fortunate to have found the PLAY project and to be able to utilize the techniques we learned from it. Like every other parent, we will always have concern about our child’s future. We don’t however, have feelings of fear and self-doubt that we aren’t doing enough to help him. We feel so grateful to have a consultant that was in our corner helping to guide us, answer our questions, and help us see things from a different perspective. Autism is unique to each individual, and so is the PLAY project. That is part of the beauty in its design.”

—Maylani M., Mother

“We have been so fortunate to find the PLAY PROJECT. Without it, I know our son would still be meandering through a dense fog and I would be there as well—unsure on how to ‘reach him.’ Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for allowing us to participate in the one intervention that worked for my son!”

Kelly L., Mother

Questions About PLAY?

Have more questions about the PLAY project and how it could work for your child? Contact us today and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.

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