Home Consulting Program
The P.L.A.Y. Project® Home Consulting 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.
The P.L.A.Y. Project was created by Dr. Rick Solomon in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This
program is a practical application of the DIR®/Floortime™ model of Stanley Greenspan
MD, a nationally respected child psychiatrist. The P.L.A.Y. Project has been piloted
with thousands of families all over the world, and is currently offered by more than
500 agencies, schools and hospitals located in 27 states and 6 countries outside of the
U.S. Home Consultants have degrees in child development fields (for example Speech,
OT, Psychology, Social Work, or Special Education) and receive intensive training by
Dr. Solomon and his supervisory staff in the DIR®/P.L.A.Y. Project™ model, prior to
working with families. After this training, The Home Consultant typically makes 3-hour
visits about once monthly to families’ homes to teach parents how to provide intensive,
one-on-one, play-based services to their young children with autism. Chicago P.L.A.Y.
Project also provides 1-hour per week of training instead of longer monthly sessions.
Why does it work?
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. We recommend that parents and
other caregivers, once trained by our Home Consultant, then commit to 2 hours per
day of PLAY-time with their child; this can usually be done in multiple 15-20-minute
sessions. Many families find it to be a very enjoyable time! Our Consultants show you
practical ways of making every interaction with your 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.
Home visits allow the Consultant to see your child in the place where he/she is most
comfortable, so the Consultant can see how he/she acts most naturally. The Home
Consultant will videotape segments of the home visits, to monitor your child’s progress
and give suggestions for more effective techniques. This allows the Home Consultant
and your family to design and implement an individual P.L.A.Y. Skill Sequence for your
Home Consultation typically includes:
The Home Consulting Program has a thorough program evaluation that includes:
- Family support 10 visits per year (the range equals 8 to 12 visits)
- 3 hour sessions roughly divided between 1 hour of modeling, 1 hour of coaching the
family, and 1 hour of feedback
- 10 visit reports within 2 weeks of the home visit with detailed PLAY recommendations
- Assistance with IFSP or IEP Goals is also available. Parents, grandparents, sitters, and
other caregivers can all be coached and trained.
What should you expect for the First Visit?
- Periodic surveys to assess family satisfaction with consulting services
- Documentation of progress using a combination of family information, various
questionnaires/assessments and video rating scales
- PLAY Handouts and materials
- Resources for families – handouts and referrals to other types of comprehensive
therapies (Speech & Language, Occupational Therapy, etc.) as needed.
The first visit provides an opportunity for the Home Consultant and your child and
family to begin to get to know each other. The Home Consultant can explain some of
the basic elements of what will occur during the home visits. Background information
is collected to ascertain current services that the child is receiving, and to establish
a baseline level of cognitive, language, adaptive, social, and sensory functioning for
your child. These assessments and intake forms can occupy 1.5 to 2.5 hours of the first
visit. If you have not attended a Level 1 seminar or viewed The P.L.A.Y. Project DVD,
you will be given an overview of the presentation (approximately 1 hour). We highly
recommend reviewing the DVD Workshop 1 before your first visit. It will save you time
and money! You can borrow it from Chicago P.L.A.Y. Project or purchase it here:
P.L.A.Y. – After the completion of the assessments you will be asked to play with your
child as you usually do. Your Home Consultant will videotape a 15-20 minute segment
of you playing with your child. During this time you just play how you would normally
play with your child. You will not be given any instructions during this segment of play.
The purpose of this is to get an idea of how you naturally play with your child. If there is
time after the assessment and filming, your P.L.A.Y. Consultant will play with your child
and model various P.L.A.Y. techniques. One of the important benefits of the home visits
is that your Home Consultant can model techniques with your child’s own toys making
it very easy for you to understand how to apply the techniques. After your visit, your
P.L.A.Y. Consultant will send you a copy of the videotape taken at the time of this visit
along with an assessment and any supplemental handouts that might be helpful.
Your second and subsequent home visits will follow the guidelines described above, i.e.,
3-hour sessions with videotaping home visits allow the Consultant to see your child in the
place where he/she is most comfortable, so the Consultant can see how he/she acts most
naturally. The Home Consultant will coach parents on how to PLAY more effectively
with the child – this type of PLAY assists the child to work through the core deficits of
autism. The Consultant will also videotape segments of the home visits, to monitor the
child’s progress, review your videotape with you, and give suggestions for more effective
techniques. Within 2 weeks you will receive detailed written recommendations that will
help your PLAY.
Cost of The P.L.A.Y. Project Home Consultation
Since the parents provide most of the hours of intensive intervention, The P.L.A.Y.
Project can be offered at a cost that is affordable for many families. For a 10 visit
contract, the cost ranges from approximately $3,900.00. Sliding scale pricing is available.
Each family signs a formal contract that details the obligations and expectations for
both the Home Consultant and the parents. Typically a family will sign up for one year
initially; most families continue the contract for a second year. We usually plan for 10
visits per year; some families want 12 visits (every month).
Cancellation of visits: We encourage families to keep their scheduled appointments. We
have a firm policy around canceling visits that are planned. Cancelled visits are often
difficult to make up due to short notice and busy schedules.
Cancellation of contract: While we initially sign a contract for a one year period, we
allow early cancellation for an administrative fee of $100; a common reason why a
family might cancel is if they move out of the region.
Research Evidence for The P.L.A.Y. Project
Preliminary evidence shows that our parent-training model is effective and The P.L.A.Y.
Project continues to scientifically evaluate the effectiveness of its program. In a pilot
study of the model, 74 young children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) participated
in a year-long PLAY Project Home Consultation (PPHC) program. Home consultants
trained parents through structured monthly home visits to use social-pragmatic (play-
based) methods of intervention. Videotapes of the children were rated at the beginning
and the end of the PPHC intervention. The results showed that 47% of the children made
good to very good progress (increasing 1 to 1.5 functional developmental levels during
the study) and 32% made fair progress. The research paper has been published in May
2007 by the peer-reviewed British journal, Autism. A copy is available upon request.
With funding from the National Institute for Mental Health (NIH), research-design
guidance from Michigan State University, and community-outreach support from
Easter Seals, The P.L.A.Y. Project is conducting a three-year randomized, controlled,
and blinded clinical trial. Drawing participants from five Easter Seals autism service
locations, the study compares the outcomes of 60 children who participate in The
P.L.A.Y. Project with the outcomes of 60 children who receive standard, community
interventions, making it the largest study of its kind. Before and after the 12-month
intervention, each child is assessed with a battery of tests to measure developmental
level, speech and language, sensory-motor profile, and social skills. A successful trial
would support efforts to encourage private insurers and government agencies to approve
major increases in funding for autism intensive intervention services, resulting in wide
dissemination of this model and significant social benefit.
The Parent as Experts
We consider you, the parent, to be the expert on your child. Our Home Consultants
are experts on autism and have been intensively trained to guide you and teach you
techniques so that you can more effectively assist your child move up the developmental
ladder, and increase language and social skills. We hope that you will consider whether
The P.L.A.Y. Project is right for your child with autism and for your family. Our goal is
for you to be your child’s best P.L.A.Y. partner!