P.L.A.Y. Project (Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters)

(began at Mott, is continued now by Dr. Solomon): This is a program that teaches parents how to interact with their autistic child in a helpful and constructive fashion. It is based on the idea that playing can be educational and it stresses that the parent should follow the child’s lead. The goal is to play the game how the child wants to play it and while doing that engage them in communication.

Swimming (offered at Beaumont Health Center): Swimming is very important for children with a variety of disabilities because in the water they are able to move around more freely. Swim therapy uses the fun setting of the water to work on flexibility, muscle control, and body movement. There are programs that also allow parents and children to swim together to promote the family bond.

Wheelchair Basketball*: Basketball is a typical sport to play if you are a kid but if you are paralyzed it is more difficult. The Sterling Heights Wheelchair Basketball Team has received monetary support from Dance Marathon to help purchase equipment that enables the team to play and compete all over the country.

Handwriting Class*: What may seem really easy to most is not so easy to a child that has difficulties controlling his/her hands. This class works with the kids in a fun setting in order to teach them how to write, sometimes even using adaptive equipment to suite their needs. Writing also works on hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.

Horseback Riding Therapy*: While this program is extremely fun for the children it has a very clear therapy-oriented purpose. Because of the gentle rhythm of the horse’s movement a child, that may be unable to walk alone, can experience motion similar to if he were walking and this improves flexibility, balance and muscle strength. It also increases self-esteem because they are so tall on the top of the horse and they have control to be able to lead the horse.

Horizontal vector illustration showing inventor/scientist and his mind processes. We can see the inventor silhouette surrounded with different elements which are showing different processes and approaches while solving a problem. We can see magnifying glass a metaphor/symbol for identification/closer look on a problem; puzzles for looking the right parts; light bulb for idea; ladders for improvement; gears and wheels for thinking; speech bubbles for different thoughts/ideas; arrows for direction of thinking; question marks for questioning and self verification; connectors for integration. There are also lot of icons related with science: DNA, microscope, laboratory equipment, molecular structure, cells, bacteria, ect. Illustration is vibrant and eye catching and also nicely layered.

Medical Play (offered at Mott Children’s Hospital): A fun way to ease children into hospitalization and reduce some of their fears about an upcoming procedure is to let them do medical play. The kids dress up like doctors and use stethoscopes and other tools to examine dolls. It allows them to feel in control and lightens the stress by answering any questions they may have in a way they can understand.

Art Therapy*: Making their own artwork is a wonderful stress relief for children and it is a time when they can talk about their fears. Also, they are in control and they get to choose their project which is very important at a time when they feel like the have no control over anything. The process is the goal and it helps increase self-esteem by creating pride in their development.