Ann Arbor, Michigan 48103

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder


This study is a large, multi-site, randomized controlled NIH trial that evaluates whether The P.L.A.Y. (Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters) Project is effective. The PLAY Project Home Consultation model coaches parents, through monthly home visits and the use of video feedback, to effectively interact with their young child with autism. The aims of the study are 1.) to show that the PLAY Home Consultants show fidelity to the model, 2.) that caregivers can be taught to interact in an engaging way with their child (with causing more stress), 3.) that the child then interacts better, improves his/her language, and has reduced severity of his or her autism.

Study summary:

A growing number of children (1 in 88) with autistic spectrum disorders ASD need intensive intervention (25 hours/week, 1:1 or 1:2 teacher to pupil ratio), which most states do not provide because a) there is a national shortage of trained personnel, b) such interventions are very expensive and c) an evidence-based, cost-effective model has not yet been developed for national dissemination. The unmet national need is enormous. The P.L.A.Y. (Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters) Project Home Consultation model (PLAY), under the direction of developmental and behavioral pediatrician Richard Solomon MD, is an innovative train-the-trainer solution that could potentially address this national need. Since publication of the pilot study in 2007*, PLAY was awarded a $1.8 million 3 year NIH SBIR (Small Business Innovations Research) grant in 2009 to implement a randomized, multi-site, blinded, controlled effectiveness study. This study compares control children receiving Community Standard Services (CSS)—12-14 hours of special education pre-school—to intervention children receiving CSS plus the PLAY Project—a once a month (3 hour), home-based, parent training program using trained masters level home consultants (HCs). PLAY operationalizes Greenspan's DIR theoretical framework into a practical approach to help parents be more sensitive, responsive, and effective in interacting with their children with ASD. With Easter Seals National as our clinical partner and and Michigan State University (Hiram Fitzgerald PhD) as our evaluation partner, the PLAY Project NIH Grant successfully recruited 112, 3-5 year old children with autism spectrum disorders, at 5 Easter Seals sites. Each year a cohort of 30 families received monthly 3-hour PLAY Project home visits for 12 months. Thus a total of 60 intervention families and 60 control families were recruited. Final results from both cohorts (n = 112) confirm that PLAY intervention children improved when compared to the control group with clinically and statistically significant less severe autism as measured by the ADOS, better language scores as measured by the MacArthur Child Development Inventories and improved ability to interact as scored by blinded raters using Mahoney's Child Behavior (Video) Rating Scale. PLAY parents, after a year of intervention, were markedly more sensitive, responsive, and effective during interactions with their children as scored by blinded raters using Mahoney's Child Behavior (Video) Rating Scale. When compared to control parents, PLAY Parents showed significantly less depression over the year of intervention. Despite asking parents to provide 2 hours per day of intervention at home parent stress was not increased. Home consultants show fidelity to the model. The PLAY Project shows promise as a replicable developmental model of autism intervention using an efficient train-the-trainer model at relatively low cost to parents and society that can be broadly and quickly disseminated to serve a growing, unmet national need. * Solomon R, Necheles J, Ferch C, Bruckman D, (2007) Pilot study of a parent training program for young children with autism: The PLAY Project Home Consultation program. Autism Vol 11(3) 205-224.


Inclusion Criteria: Children ages 3-5 years 11 months old diagnosed with autism. - Exclusion Criteria: We excluded children if they had been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, had identifiable genetic disorders, severe medical conditions, a parent with severe psychiatric disorder or cognitive impairment, and/or families who did not speak English with their child. Families in the CS group who reported receiving intensive intervention (>10 hours/week of a programmatic approach to ASD—check this) were excluded from the study. -



Primary Contact:

Principal Investigator
Richard Solomon, MD
Richard Solomon MD, Plc

Backup Contact:


Location Contact:

Ann Arbor, Michigan 48103
United States

There is no listed contact information for this specific location.

Site Status: N/A

Data Source:

Date Processed: June 16, 2021

Modifications to this listing: Only selected fields are shown, please use the link below to view all information about this clinical trial.

Click to view Full Listing

This study is not currently recruiting Study Participants on The form below is not enabled.