PLAY Project

The P.L.A.Y. Project™ (Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters)

The P.L.A.Y. Project™ is an early intervention program for young children (ages 18 months to 7 years) diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).  This program was created by Dr. Rick Solomon in Ann Arbor, Michigan and is a practical application of the DIR®/Floortime model of Stanley Greenspan, MD, a nationally-respected child psychiatrist.

The P.L.A.Y. Project™ Home Consultation 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.

Parents spend more time with their children than all of their teachers and therapists 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.  The program consists of 3-hour visits every 4-6 weeks (9 per year) in the family’s home to teach parents how to provide intensive, one-on-one, play-based services to their young child.  Consultants show parents practical ways of making every interaction with their 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.

Background of The P.L.A.Y. Project™

The P.L.A.Y. Project™ began in 2001 when Dr. Rick Solomon, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician, decided to create an affordable early intervention program for young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  Dr. Solomon realized that parents needed guidance, support and effective treatment options.  In addition, he saw that most families could not afford to pay $40,000-$60,000 per year for the intensive interventions recommended for young children with ASD. The P.L.A.Y. Project™, by comparison, trains parents to provide the hours of intervention their child needs, reducing the cost to around $4,000 per year.

The P.L.A.Y. Project™ has been piloted with over 1,000 families in sites all over the Midwest and is currently offered by more than 80 agencies, schools and hospitals in 23 states.  Research findings have been published in Autism: The International Journal of Research and Practice (May 2007).  Current research is being conducted in collaboration with Michigan State University, funded by a grant from the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH).

The P.L.A.Y. Project™ Mission

  • Promote early identification and early intervention
  • Educate the community regarding National Academy of Sciences recommendations for children with ASD:
    • Begin interventions early (18 months to 5 years)
    • Use intensive intervention 25 hours per week
    • Have a teacher (P.L.A.Y partner) to child ratio of 1:1 or 1:2
    • Use interventions that are engaging
    • Have a strategic direction (social skills, language, etc.)
  • Use community-based approaches to promulgate DIR® (Developmental, Individualized and Relationship-based) interventions
  • Support families in a parent-professional partnership
  • Scientifically evaluate effectiveness of program

To learn more about The P.L.A.Y. Project™ organization and its background visit

There is a P.L.A.Y. Project Families Yahoo group open to anyone participating or interested in The P.L.A.Y. Project.

How do I set up The P.L.A.Y. Project™ program for my child?

  • The first step for parents is to establish the diagnosis or preliminary diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) for their child by getting an evaluation, either through the local school district or by a knowledgeable and qualified professional.  Diagnostic office consultations with Dr. Rick Solomon, the Medical Director of The P.L.A.Y. Project™, are readily available through The Ann Arbor Center for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.  Parents who have a firm or provisional diagnosis do not need to see Dr. Solomon to enroll in The P.L.A.Y. Project™ Home Consultation program.
  • The second step is to contact a licensed facility offering The P.L.A.Y. Project™, such as EnCourage Institute for Teaching and Learning, to request additional information.  EnCourage Institute will schedule a no charge consultation for you and your family to visit our office and discuss the concerns and needs that you have for your child.  Contract review and program specifics will also be shared at this meeting.
  • Finally, you will complete a services agreement/contract and schedule your first visit.  The first home visit will focus on gathering information that helps us assess and learn about your child.  We will also begin the instruction of the various P.L.A.Y. techniques, modeling the techniques with your child’s own toys to make it easy to understand and do on your own.

To contact EnCourage Institute regarding The P.L.A.Y. Project™, email us or call 616-530-2224.

If you have questions about financial assistance, we can provide suggestions and assistance. Contact EnCourage Institute to discuss options.

PLAY Project Home Consulting Summary: A downloadable PDF for parents considering The P.L.A.Y. Project™ through EnCourage Institute for Teaching and Learning.