Groundbreaking therapy pioneered right here in Michigan is helping children around the world challenged by autism.
It isn’t just helping children, it’s also strengthening families.
There’s no better example than that of Ben Gretchko who proudly proclaimed, “I’m actually going to Western Michigan University!”
If you’ve never watched the video, please invest a few five minutes and see for yourself why it’s gone viral.
Ben Gretchko has autism. He courageously stood before his classmates at Birmingham Seaholm High School as an example of what’s possible. What each of us want: the ability to rise up and confront life’s greatest challenges.
The type of challenges Katherine Gimmestad knows first hand.
“I’m a clinical psychologist and in my work with adults you try to see what motivates them what do they enjoy but when it comes to your kids you become so stressed out that you may not be able think the same way.”
Katherine’s little boy Alex is as adventurous and inquisitive as any child but as parents often do, she began to have concerns.
“My son was diagnosed on August 18, and when that happens it; they tell you its a marathon but it feels like a crisis.”
Then come the questions; what’s next? What can you do? Where can you go? Who can you see? After a bit of research Katherine and her husband Eric found a man who could do more than just answer their questions. He has solutions.
Dr. Richard Solomon specializes in helping children with autism reach their full potential. Ben Gretchko is was one of Dr. Solomon’s patients.
“Ben was one of the earliest P.L.A.Y. Project families at the University of Michigan when I was there.”
Dr. Solomon’s ground breaking approach is called the P.L.A.Y. Project. P.L.A.Y. is an acronym that stands for Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters. it doesn’t replace other forms of therapy, it augments them by allowing parents to take an active role in a child’s development.
“The earliest form for the PLAY Project is 1989. And for 10 years I developed the model in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and then brought it to the University of Michigan in 2000. Empowering parents to help their own children is now an evidence based practice and it should be entering public policy and the world. I mean this is big!”
So big that the state of Ohio offers the P.L.A.Y. Project in it’s early intervention system to all children: birth to three years of age for free.
“We’re in the military, We’re in early intervention. We’re in, we’re starting to get insurance coverage and I think parent implemented models is an idea who’s time has come. So to me this is news. To me, this is the really big news.”
Katherine Gimmsestad agrees.
“The main challenge in autism is that social component, that component of relating to others on a social, emotional level. You need that for the rest of your life. You have to work with people. No man is an island and that’s the challenge with autism. That’s what the PLAY Therapy addresses.”
It also helps strengthen the bond between parent and child which produces an environment more conducive to learning.
Each child is different. If you have a child with autism the P.L.A.Y. Project is worthy of further examination and it just might be what you’ve been looking for. Click HERE to learn more about the P.L.A.Y. Project.