PLAY Project- Information for Parents

In summer 2021, Shine added the PLAY Project to our list of offerings, hiring PLAY Project consultant Brenna Thompson! We are so excited to welcome her to Central Illinois! We have had LOTS of questions about PLAY Project, so here’s a quick Q & A about the program:

What is the PLAY Project? 

The PLAY Project is an evidence-based autism intervention developed by Rick Solomon MD, a Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician. The PLAY Project 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. We watch parents develop a joyous relationship with their child because of the PLAY Project. 

The PLAY Project Home Consulting Program offers support and training for families of young children with autism/suspected autism in the home setting. We find the home is where the child is most comfortable and acts most naturally. Parents are coached by credentialed professionals to implement methods and techniques that are effective, fun, and useful in day-to-day interactions with their child. 

The success of the PLAY Project spans thousands of families all over the world with more than 100 sites in 30 states and 9 countries. PLAY Project Consultants hold degrees in child development fields (e.g. Speech, OT, Psychology, Social Work, or Special Education) and master the PLAY Project intervention through intensive training and supervision by Dr. Solomon and his experienced staff. 

Wait…my child isn’t diagnosed with Autism…how does the PLAY Project help my child? 

You are your child’s first and best teacher and you know your child better than anyone else. PLAY Project is considered a parent-implemented autism intervention, however, we often don’t have a diagnosis or know the root cause of a speech, language or social communication problem when we work with young children. The PLAY Project approach is effective for children with speech and language delays, sensory processing concerns or behavioral issues. 

The PLAY Project Consultant assesses your child’s developmental and behavioral changes at each visit. The assessment is then used to develop the child’s 

individualized PLAY Plan: a set of techniques and activities designed to help your child reach these outcomes: 

• Increased caregiver/parent and child interaction 

• Increased social interaction of child 

• Improved social-emotional development of child 

• Improved autism-related diagnostic category/symptoms including behavioral compliance. 

Our certified PLAY Project Consultants are specialists in the field of child development who are trained to educate, guide, and support you as you learn to nurture your child’s social and emotional development, but we consider you, as parents and caregivers, to be the expert on your child. 

What is a typical PLAY Visit like? 

Your PLAY Project Consultant coaches you in the PLAY Project methods, principles, and techniques so you can help deliver the intervention with your child throughout your everyday interactions. During visits, you and the PLAY Project Consultant work with your child. Siblings and other caregivers are welcome to join in the play-based activities, too. 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. 

How long is a PLAY Project Session? 

• It is recommended to participate in 2 home visits/month that last 90 minutes each visit. These visits are broken down into segments to educate, play and train families. 

• A PLAY Plan is then emailed within 1 week of each visit, that includes detailed PLAY recommendations for methods, techniques, and activities for the family to use between visits. 

My child is under age 3. Is this program available in our local Early Intervention Program?

Yes! In Central Illinois, contact your Service Coordinator to have a PLAY Project assessment added to your child’s plan!

How much does the PLAY Project cost & How do I get started? 

The program to fidelity costs $400 per month; grant funding may be available. There are other ways to work with Brenna offered as well, which can be found on our PLAY service price sheet. Check out her bio. Email Brenna directly at [email protected]. She can answer any questions and schedule with you! 

What are the best resources for understanding the PLAY Project approach? 

The play project website has a plethora of information and many FAQ’s answered.  


An 8-week program for children age 3-6 with sensory processing differences

Children with sensory processing differences have difficulty with regulation, which sometimes makes it difficult for them to interact with the world around them. Our Sensory Explorers group targets regulation in order to build engagement! This group is led by pediatric occupational therapists Mackenzie Baldock (2:30 group) OR Meghan Day (8:30 group) and developmental therapist/PLAY Project Consultant Brenna Thompson, all of whom specialize in using developmentally appropriate strategies to support children so they can learn new skills. Group meets once/week for 60 minutes.

Wondering if this class is appropriate for your child? Some characteristics of kids who benefit: easily frustrated with play, repetitive play, difficulty sitting/keeping still to engage in play, refuses to allow others to engage in play, unable to be messy, overly busy, quickly overwhelmed in a busy environment, picky eater, difficulty tolerating grooming/dressing/diapering routines, struggles with transitions/following a group plan/routine. 

Goals of the group include:

  • Child participating in a variety of sensory play activities
  • Engaging socially with others in the group
  • Providing a non threatening environment where children can experience new sensations with the support of a pediatric Occupational Therapist and PLAY Project consultant
  • Providing personalized resources to caregivers, so they better understand the sensory system and learn strategies to assist their child with regulation outside of group
  • Opportunity to meet with other local families

GROUP MEETS for 8 weeks:  Caregivers must stay on the premises to support their child and learn helpful strategies. Children will separate from caregivers for the session; caregivers can socialize in the lobby (we will also provide a few toys for siblings to play). Caregiver education is a key component of this program. 


OPTIONAL Summary Report available at close of session. This 2 page report will summarize your child’s participation in the class and provide helpful sensory strategies to increase their participation in activities. This report could be given to teachers in classrooms & daycares or utilized to help educate other caregivers about ways to help your child participate. This option includes a 30 minute Zoom meeting with Brenna and MacKenzie/Brenna and Meghan to review the report and discuss your child’s progress in Sensory Explorers. COST: $100 due at sign up