Studying the P.L.A.Y. Project

The P.L.A.Y. Project (Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters) is conducting a two-year, randomized, controlled, and blinded clinical trial on the effectiveness of The P.L.A.Y. Project model of intervention. We at Easter Seals Peoria-Bloomington are pleased to be one of the five Easter Seals affiliates participating.

With research-design guidance from Michigan State University, and community-outreach support from Easter Seals, 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. Year one preliminary results are very promising for the first 60 children involved in the study. Parents participating in The P.L.A.Y. Project reported 15-20 hours per week engaged interaction, and recorded observations demonstrate that the parents:

  • were responsive to child’s cues,
  • followed the child’s lead, and
  • effectively elicited back-and-forth interaction.

An added benefit: parents involved in the P.L.A.Y. project suffered less stress and depression over time. In respect to child-specific progress, scores on the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, or ADOS, showed significant improvement in the intervention group’s severity of autism symptoms. That said, there were little significant differences in IQ scores between the study and control groups.

Year two of The P.L.A.Y. Project study will end later this spring, and additional study results will be available in the next year. Until then, if you have questions about our participation in The P.L.A.Y. study, you can contact Easter Seals in Peoria at 309-686-1177 or Bloomington at 309.663-8375.


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