PLAY Project

Autism Early Intervention

Connecting parents of young autistic children to intervention education.

The Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters (PLAY) Project is a community-based autism training modality and early intervention program. It’s dedicated to empowering professionals and parents of autistic children to implement intensive, developmental interventions for young children with autism most effectively and efficiently.

Effective, Fun and Useful In-Home Programming

The PLAY Project is an in-home program that provides autism resources, training, and support to families of young (18 months to 6 years) children with autism. Our trained consultants teach parents PLAY techniques that are effective, fun, and useful in day-to-day interactions with their autistic children. Created by Richard Solomon, MD, and based on the Developmental, Individualized, Relationship-based Theory by Stanley Greenspan, MD, this program emphasizes the importance of helping parents become their child’s best PLAY partner.

The research-based home program includes the following:

  • Ten home visits per year
  • Three-hour sessions roughly divided between one hour of modeling, one hour of coaching, and one hour of feedback
  • Selective videotaping of home visit interactions, followed by video analysis, written evaluations, and feedback
  • Interaction with other service providers as appropriate


What research is involved?

The PLAY Project is committed to evidence-based practice, and that evidence is gathered routinely within the intervention model. The video documentation and analysis used to train parents have also been useful for assessing program effectiveness.

Why is intensive intervention important?

The National Academy of Sciences recommends 25 hours per week of intensive intervention with a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio with a strategic direction. Only families who can afford to spend $40,000-$60,000 on therapies for their autistic child can meet this recommendation. Some others need the proper training or support to provide the interventions effectively. The PLAY Project trains and supports parents to provide interventions, with over a year of monthly sessions that include modeling, evaluation, and training for $4,500-$5,000.

What skills does this program target?

This program focuses on helping children with autism spectrum disorder, social and language delays, and sensory issues build emotional connections and meaningful relationships with their families and others. By focusing on relationships, we help children gain skills by moving up the six functional developmental levels:

  • Self-regulation and shared attention
  • Engagement and intimacy
  • Two-way communication and initiation
  • Complex communication and language
  • Emotional ideas, simple symbolic play
  • Emotional thinking, complex symbolic play

We apply techniques in the PLAY Project model that match each child’s developmental level; in other words, we “meet them where they are.” We help each child gain social skills and language by building solid relationships with their family, adults, and, eventually, peers.

How does the PLAY Project compare with Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)?

PLAY and ABA are complementary and have different strategic directions. Many families choose to apply both methods. Our strategies are child-centered and flexible, with activities based on following the child’s lead; ABA is program-centered with a skill and drill-based curriculum. Play-based methods are especially helpful in addressing the social difficulties of children with autism or other developmental issues.

How is the PLAY Project different from other therapies?

The PLAY Project is a community-based autism training solution and early intervention program dedicated to empowering parents of autistic children and professionals to implement intensive, developmental interventions for young children with autism most effectively and efficiently. By teaching parents to provide 25 hours per week of intensive intervention with their child, each child makes excellent progress at a much lower cost to the family.

Interested in joining the program? Contact us for more information and to sign-up your family and child.

*For families that need help with payment, FIRST offers a sliding scale fee structure for the PLAY Project. FIRST can bill this service to Medicaid Direct if the child has Medicaid.