When Logan was littler, he only wanted to play by himself. If we walked up and tried to engage him in any way, he wouldn’t look at us or acknowledge we were there. He would just walk away, or get mad that we were trying to do something with him that he didn’t understand and go into full meltdown. This was both frustrating to us and him. Why didn’t he want to play with me? Why did I feel like I was just another object in his world or that I just made him mad all the time? I didn’t know how to connect to him.
How I discovered the P.L.A.Y. Project
When we put two and two together and decided to get him diagnosed for Autism, I took him to his pediatrician and he suggested that I look into the P.L.A.Y. Project. He had just come from a training, and was really excited to tell me all about it. I am so glad he did, because the relationship that I have been able to foster with my little boy over the last 6 months has been invaluable, and the skills he has learned, both social and verbal, through these techniques has been amazing to me. We liked them so much, that when we learned that the P.L.A.Y. project was developed by a local Michigan developmental pediatrician, we called him immediately to set up the appointment that changed our lives.
About the P.L.A.Y. Project
The P.L.A.Y. Project was designed by Developmental Pediatrician Richard Solomon. He has been diagnosing ASD for over 20 years, and has worked closely with patients and parents throughout that time to develop this autism therapy that helps parents to develop a relationship with their ausome kid*, and become their best source of at home intervention. It is based off of the floor time model, and the techniques are simple to remember, easy to practice and to incorporate into our daily lives. It is recommended to practice the P.L.A.Y. technique 20-25 hours a week, but very easy to put in more if you get to stay home with your ausome kid like I do.
This therapy works great as a supplement to other therapies such as OT and ABA and, in my opinion, is the really REALLY fun therapy that I’m lucky I get to do with him. He has a great time, and doesn’t even know that I am making him practice his verbal and social skills with me while I am doing it, which makes it a lot easier on him and me. Family are the best therapist’s when it comes to practicing those skills they are learning from other therapies!
How does it work?
In a nutshell, walk into their world, and draw them out with you! You can order the workshop DVD from the P.L.A.Y. Project website to get more information (which I recommend you do!!). I love it so much that I thought I would expand on it for you and show you how we use it to actively engage with our little guy on a daily basis. Here is an example.
#1. Find what he/she LOVES to do, even if it is by themselves at the moment.
When learning these techniques, we made a list of things that Logan loves to do. For example, we wrote down that He loves music. He has his own piano, he loves humming melodies, and one of his favorite songs to sing is ‘twinkle twinkle little star’.
#2. Do it with them.
It started out simple enough. When Logan would break out into his rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, I would sit by him and hum along. He stopped, and looked at me. A VISUAL CUE that he noticed I was there and that I was doing something he liked! He would sing, I would hum. He would giggle, and look me in the eye. I would reward that by singing louder, or giving him a hug. Soon enough we were both singing at the top of lungs and snuggling, sharing giggles and smiles. This might sound pretty normal, but for us it was amazing. He knew I was there, he liked it, and was engaging with me.
#3. Draw out verbal skills
This might be the most confusing part about this therapy. Getting him engaged was hard enough, how do I get him to talk to me?!?
If you have been reading for a while, you know my frustrations in the past about his verbal skills.
But, in this example, it was simple. Logan didn’t communicate verbally, but he sang whole songs word for word. When singing to him, I would purposely stop at a word. He would noticed I stopped, and correct me to keep the song going. I would do this numerous times, and if he looked me in the eye while correcting me, I would reward him by resuming the song again. If he wanted me to sing the song again when it was over, he would say “Again?” and I would reward him by singing the song again, broken up to get that circle going, and then not do it if he didn’t ask “Again?”. I taught him “Again?” at first by saying it at the end of the song and then starting up again. This taught him to ask for something again if he wanted it again.
This is pretty simple enough, but to a boy that would just hand us his cup and walk away if he wanted something to drink – it was amazing hear him asking for something.
The circles can get more and more expansive as the therapy goes on, and I can encourage circles with anything we do throughout the day, getting clothes on, eating lunch, playing with his sister, etc.
The P.L.A.Y. Project has worked, and continues to work, for us, and I am happy to report that now he seeks us out for play time!
Though this isn’t video of an actual session, you can still see a little bit of what we use as a technique – and see him giving us eye contact and recognition!
I will continue to explain more in depth about the program in future posts!
*Ausome – We call Logan Ausome with an AU, because he is amazing and awesome!