Autism Awareness: PLAY Project Delivers Positive Outcomes

The Mercer County Board of DD got involved in the PLAY Project several years ago. This photo from Pipeline Quarterly, Winter 2010-2011, shows Emmett and his Mom, Tennille. She said that Emmett’s interactions with toys, and with people, “just exploded” while learning and using the PLAY techniques.

The Mercer County Board of DD got involved in the PLAY Project several years ago. This photo from Pipeline Quarterly, Winter 2010-2011, shows Emmett and his Mom, Tennille. She said that Emmett’s interactions with toys, and with people, “just exploded” while learning and using the PLAY techniques.

During Autism Awareness Month, Pipeline shares information about efforts by DODD and our partners to learn more, diagnose earlier, and provide new training opportunities for families and professionals.

What is the PLAY Project?

The PLAY Project (Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters) is a play-based early intervention program that can improve social interaction, communication, and functional development in children on the autism spectrum.  Highly-trained PLAY Project Consultants introduce the family to the principles and methods that will help them understand the program’s goals, and gain skills that will lead to improved engagement and social interaction with their child.

PLAY Project Consultants invite families to share their knowledge about their child to help determine the child’s unique profile. Based on this profile, a PLAY Plan is developed that specifies techniques and activities parents use as they interact with their child throughout their daily routine. During each home visit, the consultant supports the family in their role of play partner. They answer questions, coach the parents as they play with their child, model recommended activities and techniques, and provide written feedback. Video footage is taken to track and measure progress. On an ongoing basis, the consultant will reassess the child’s progress, and modify the PLAY Plan to best meet the changing needs of the child and family.

PLAY Project in Ohio

Since 2011, DODD has collaborated with the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence (OCALI) to sponsor and support PLAY Project consultant training in Ohio. To date, 45 counties (view Ohio Play Project Map) have certified PLAY Project Consultants or trainees working on their PLAY Project certification.  An additional 17 counties have access to PLAY Project services through their Council of Government (COG), or other shared arrangements among counties. This is a significant, long-term investment in an outcome-based early intervention approach.

PLAY Project Consultant Training

In addition to the PLAY Project supervision, ongoing support has been provided through webinars by Dr. Richard Solomon (founder of the PLAY Project), advanced training for those who become certified, regional meetings, and technical support. Training to become a certified PLAY Project Consultant involves attending an intensive four-day training that covers the theoretical and practical considerations needed to implement the PLAY Project.

Following the training, each prospective Consultant submits at least ten videos and reports that demonstrate modeling and coaching PLAY activities and techniques. They also must complete five online case studies and attend up to five meetings with PLAY Project Supervisors who facilitate video reviews of participating children. This process takes approximately 18 months.

DODD and OCALI are committed to maintaining the infrastructure of PLAY Project services that has been developed over the last four years, and will continue to offer training to counties licensed in the PLAY Project.

Contact Tom Hess for more information: 614-466-7480, or thomas.hess@dodd.ohio.gov.

 

 

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