Does The PLAY Project autism therapy work? Yes! And, it is specifically designed for early intervention, for children ages 12 months to 7 years old. It is also a family therapy, focusing on the relationship between you and your child.
Who will be your child's therapist? ALL PLAY Project therapists are professionals with a minimum of a master/s degree who has passed their professional licensing requirements/exam in one of the following: Early Childhood Special Education, Speech therapy, Occupational therapy, Physical therapy, Social Work, or Psychology. Qualified professionals are trained by The PLAY Project and engage in 12-18 months of reflective supervision before being awarded their credential.
What does the PLAY autism therapy look like?
It is a widely researched, evidence based program that is designed upon a Developmental Individual-difference Relationship-based model (DIR), sometimes called Floortime, and the child's Functional Developmental Levels (FDL'S). These developmental levels, usually seen in the first year, are the foundation for communication and social emotional skills:
Self-regulation and interest in the world
Intimacy, or engagement in relationships
It is critical that children go through these developmental levels in order to be able to engage with the world around them. Each family/child receives an individualized therapy plan that is unique to the current level of abilities of the child and designed to guide them through their journey.
"Meet them (child) where they are and take them where they need to go!"- Richard Solomon, M.D., Founder of The Play Project and Medical Director of The Center for Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrics, Ann Arbor MI.
It is all too common for children with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder to show delays, some significant, in these basic stages of early development. If these skills are not developed, the child will have huge gaps in later development as well. No mater how many skills they are 'taught' through behavior therapy, those skills won't do any good without being able to have a relationship with and engage with the people and the world around them.
We KNOW and APPRECIATE what you and your child are capable of doing and what can be achieved! So, PLAY autism therapy is a parent mediated, coaching model. Since you, the parent/caregiver, are your child's first and best teacher, we teach you to be your child's communication and play partner!
Let's not forget, PLAY, like ABA, is also a behavior therapy. The difference is that we view 'behaviors' in young children, that are considered by adults, to be 'negative' as simply a frustrated or scared child's way of trying to communicate, to get your attention. So, let's develop those engagement and communication skills using the most natural and best strategy for young children, play! And don't forget, the reward in PLAY therapy is the relationship!
Does ABA work?
Yes, for some children who have the ability to initiate back and forth communication. For those children, the question is when. It is critical that your child be able to engage and communicate effectively in a back and forth way before beginning ABA therapy. If not, you run the risk of your child going to school, completing a task, then holding his hand out for the reward object, which is often food. How likely is he to get a reward in school for each simple task? Where is the relationship? Learned skills will do your child no good if she is not able to use them while engaging with others and the world around her.
Who will be your child's therapist?
Most likely, a RBT (Registered Behavior Technician). The qualification is a high school diploma or GED. All RBT's are supervised by a BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst), a professional with a masters degree in psychology. BCBA's are required to pass a licensing exam. The questions are, how often will they be supervised and from where? Is the BCBA on site or in another state? Critical questions that you must ask.
What does ABA look like?
ABA is a behavioral therapy that uses objects as rewards for positive reinforcement. When a behavior is followed by something that is valued (a reward), a child is more likely to repeat that behavior.
First, the therapist identifies a goal behavior. Each time your child uses the behavior or skill successfully, he gets a reward. The reward is meaningful to the him – examples include a toy or book, watching a video, access to playground or other location, and more. Positive object rewards are meant to encourage your child to continue using the skill. Over time this is supposed to lead to meaningful behavior change. Where is the relationship?
While ABA has its place in the world of autism therapy, it is not the best beginning for very young children. It is our belief that early intervention for toddlers, preschoolers, and young children needs to be parent/caregiver based. Are you willing to put your young non-verbal child in the hands of a RBT (registered behavior therapist) for 4-8 hours a day?