Brenna Thompson, B.S. Communication Sciences & Disorders

PLAY Project Consultant, Developmental Specialist, Autism Advocate

Hi parents! I’m Brenna! I am a Developmental Specialist by trade, but have coined myself as an Autism Advocate. I have spent the last 12 years working with children/adolescents on the spectrum, and loving every single minute of it. I have learned through my experiences that every child is different, every family is unique, and every situation has its celebrations and challenges. I truly feel I have found my calling within this role, and I am excited to continue helping families in the early years.

My long-term goal here at Shine is to continue to empower families to help their little one by being their best teacher/therapist. As a parent to little people who have their own unique challenges, I KNOW what it’s like to want to understand your child’s strengths and weaknesses. I truly believe YOU guys as parents reading this are the #1 therapists in their life, after all – you are who is with them around the clock. I am devoted to doing whatever I can to help support and educate you, ((all while keeping it fun)) as you educate me on your little one!! 

I am SO excited to be providing PLAY project to central Illinois! I am a 309 native, but just returning to the area after living in Ohio for the past 13 years. My husband and I were actually born and raised in the small town of Henry about 40 miles north of Peoria. After I graduated college, I briefly joined my husband on his military base out in New Jersey, and then headed to Ohio to help take care of his 2 little babes (my bonus babes!!). We then had 2 additional children making a house full! I am beyond excited to be getting back to my roots, and helping my community with an area that I feel needs more awareness and education. 

In 2014, I was blessed with an opportunity with the county I lived in to provide Developmental Services to families through home visits. I saw a wide array of families with Developmental Delays, but was again always drawn to the families on the spectrum. I think mostly because I see the crucial need so early on for families to understand and be their child’s best advocate, and also because I seem to connect well with these little babes. Our team also knew that I had a strength here, and most families on the spectrum would end up on my caseload. I received my certification through PLAY project in 2016, and providing these services became my passion!

What I love about PLAY… it WORKS. All of the families I have been blessed to be a part of the past 5 years would have rave reviews on this therapy versus other therapies.  It takes on a unique approach of understanding the child as a whole instead of just focusing on the behavior and trying to get the child to do the desired outcome. It helps you as parents understand why your child is reacting the way s/he is, and get to the root of the meltdown first and work to prevent potential future meltdowns. PLAY project also happens in the home, which is a HUGE benefit for this child who typically likes things to be predictable!! We utilize the things in your environment, that will be there for the days to come, to really get to your kiddos level and make improvements in the areas of sensory regulation, personal/social engagement, and communication. 

Thank you so much for reading my BIO! I hope we can connect and I can introduce you to this incredible way of “therapy” 🙂

An 8-week program for children age 3-5 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 therapist Mackenzie Baldock and developmental therapist/PLAY Project Consultant Brenna Thompson, both 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 begins with a 30 minute Open House on Tuesday October 4 for your child & caregiver/family to attend. This provides an opportunity to meet the therapists, acclimate your child to the space and provide some initial information about your child’s responses to a variety of sensory activities. 30 minute sessions will be offered from 12:30-4:30 on 10/4 with sign up sent with registration.


GROUP MEETS for 6 weeks October 11-November 15: Tuesdays 2:00-3:00 OR Tuesdays 3:30-4:30. ***We ask that families who are able remain flexible on the time slot so we can effectively pair your child with others that they will gain the maximum benefit from for social interactions!** Caregivers are encouraged to stay to support their child and learn helpful strategies, however other options will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Caregiver education is a key component of this program. Make-up date in case of class cancellation: 11/22/22


Group ends with a 15-30 minute Zoom wrap up session with caregiver(s) on November 29th. Every participant will receive a short, personalized Session Summary report complete with suggestions/recommendations for helpful sensory supports in the child’s home/classroom/community.