New Hope Adds Program for Children with Autism

New Hope Adds Program for Children with Autism

by Amy Flint, Director of Placement Services

Two years ago, a CARF (Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) surveyor asked us if we were familiar with the PLAY Project. That’s all it took for us to research the PLAY Project and figure out how to get certified. New Hope has a team of consultants providing behavior services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and we thought this therapeutic program would fit nicely with our current services. New Hope has one Certified PLAY project consultant and another in training and is the only agency licensed to offer this program in central Indiana.

The PLAY (Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters) Project is an evidenced-based autism intervention developed by Richard Solomon, MD from Ann Arbor Michigan. It is devoted to helping parents develop a better connection with their child through play, and helping the child improve their language, development, behavior and social skills.

Children ages 15 months to 6 years of age with a diagnosis of autism benefit the most from this therapy, but any child with developmental delays affecting language development or social skills may also benefit. PLAY Project consultants have also worked with older children and individuals living in group home settings.

The program is effective because each caregiver receives one-on-one training, coaching and support based on their needs and the needs of their child with autism. They can in turn train other family members, nannies or baby sitters. The consultant creates an individualized PLAY plan that includes education on the PLAY Project principles and strategies; assessment of the child; list of recommended techniques and activities specific to the child’s profile and sensory motor profile; video recording and analysis, including skilled observation and specific suggestions; and ongoing evaluation and updates to the child’s individualized plan.

Parents and caregivers benefit by learning their child’s unique strengths and needs; how to make every interaction with their child a growing and learning experience; what “developmentally appropriate” means for their child; how to effectively respond to their child’s behavior; ways to support their child’s learning and preparation for kindergarten; and how to increase the amount of smiles and laughter in the home. PLAY Project emphasizes fun!

A few comments from parents engaged in the PLAY Project:

“I just finished reading through your comments and they are SOOOO constructive and helpful!! She incorporates new activities each month and he is learning new words, he is up to 50 words.”

“I have learned how to approach behavioral concerns from a PLAY Project prospective. She is more engaged and I am more attuned to her needs and wants.”

According to Terri Gee, MSW, New Hope’s PLAY Project Consultant:

“This is a great success story because my client truly learns how to use more words in each session and can reciprocate conversations. She enjoys theatrical slapstick humor and emotional actions and reactions from others. She is very smart and enjoys life.”

For more information on the PLAY Project, please contact me at (317) 338-4535 or

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