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
What is a Parent-Mediated Model?

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.

Do I need a diagnosis of Autism to start the PLAY Project?

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

What is required of my family to participate in PLAY Project?

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.

What is a PLAY Project home visit like?

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.

What is Teaching PLAY?

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 for children on the Autism Spectrum

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.