Home > Government Relations > Floortime and a Spiritual Discovery

Floortime and a Spiritual Discovery

Ben G. of Michigan received floortime therapy through The PLAY Project Intervention for Autism, one of Autism Speaks’ first community grant recipients. His mother, Lisa, reports how his progress has led to his writing a sermon that he read at his Bar Mitzvah to his friends and family.

My husband and I have a 13-year-old son, Ben, whose symptoms appeared when he was very, very young.  Ben started getting occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and sensory integrative therapy at 14 months of age, then at 30 months came under the care of Dr. Rick Solomon in 2001. Still, Ben didn’t speak. In fact, he was a mess.

We were family #19 in the PLAY Project. Thanks to the PLAY Project and excellent speech therapists, Ben is doing well today. He is a seventh grader in a regular classroom, although he gets support through extra study hall and help with his reading comprehension. His grades are good (nothing below a B). He seems to be having a normal childhood.

Ben’s Bar Mitzvah was on October 22nd, and his friends (73 of them, to be exact) were coming.  (Better yet, he is getting invited to the Bar Mitzvahs of other kids that he knows.)  Ben’s Bar Mitzvah fell on the day when Jews read the creation story in synagogues around the world. Because Ben is really interested in weather and space, we were delighted that he was assigned a Torah portion that he could identify with.

But, Ben had to write a sermon.

Here is a copy of Ben’s sermon for you to read.  It’s a real testament to the way his brain works (e.g. I told him we would read how God created the universe, and he expected there to be a recipe!) But, it also shows that autistic children can recover to the point of being spiritual.

Dr.  Solomon, his wife, the PLAY Project consultant who worked with Ben for three years, and the speech therapist who worked with Ben for five years will all be at his Bar Mitzvah—with bells on!  (You should have seen Ben’s face when I used that expression to describe their excitement!) We are looking forward to a great celebration—made possible by the great work that folks do to help autistic children get well and reach their true potential.

If you ever need a child as “living proof” that early intervention works, Ben is Exhibit A. I shudder to think what would have happened without the PLAY Project.

Autism Speaks awarded Dr. Solomon’s institute a $15,000 grant in 2007 for a project called Training Respite Care Providers in The PLAY Project Intervention for Autism.

 The PLAY Project is a practical application of DIR (Developmental, Individual-differences and Relationship). Dr. Solomon and his group have trained nearly 200 therapists and teachers in 70 agencies across 22 states to train parents to implement The PLAY Project with children. This project was a collaboration with Lansing Area Parents Respite Center to train its staff of respite care providers in The PLAY Project techniques. By training respite care providers, they improved engagement and interaction with the children that they work with.

This was a pilot project to develop a new model for respite care for children with autism spectrum disorder.

  1. Oma
    November 9, 2011 at 11:38 am

    What a great story. I would have loved to read Ben’s sermon, but the link didn’t work. I will check back later and see if it gets fixed.

  2. Molly
    November 9, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    We have also done the PLAY project. So amazing. Rick Solomon is such a blessing to us.

  3. November 9, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Wonderful story! My son has had Floortime therapy since he was diagnosed at 3 1/2, as recommended by his neurologist. It’s been great for him and amazing for us as parents to learn that we can embrace him just as he is, respect his needs, and interact more joyfully with him. Thank you for sharing!

  4. November 9, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    Very beautiful and encouraging story. God bless everyone and those who are Autistic! They teach us all to pay attention and to keep an open mind to hope, faith, and choices, by far. Those who share their stories with the rest of the world pave way to the future–of an Autistic Child’s welfare and offer wealth of ideas/information to the otherwise clueless. Your profound experiences with Autism, speaks louder than words can express. Thank you for sharing your stories. Great BIG HUGS and comforting support to you and your family!

  5. November 9, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    Such a beautiful reflection. Thank you. I got teary reading it.

  6. marites b. maghinay
    November 9, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    am blessed to know that kids with autism can live a normal through intervention and support of the parents and community as well like the play project.

  7. James GreyWolf
    November 9, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    Ben’s speech on the power of words was moving. And accurate. Your son’s sermon was powerful and, I think, showed a great deal of wisdom. Though I am not Jewish, from what I understand of Judaism, the bar mitzvah is but the first step from childhood to adulthood. If this was his first step, I am sure that his path is strong and will lead him to greatness. I wish him happiness in his journey through life. And I wish you the joy of being there to watch him grow into the adult that I am sure he will become. L’chaim.

  8. Gladys Lebron
    November 9, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    Beautiful story and very touching. Can you send me some info about the play project; and what the floor plan consist off. I have a grandson who’s autistic non verbal and he’s been in therapy since he was 3 yrs old;He’s 6 and in school but he hasn’t shown any improvement at all, we feel so useless because we don’t have any idea on how to help him.Sometimes he has tantrums because he feels frustrated and want or try to get sounds out but nothing happens.If there’s any advice that you can give to help my grandson,I will appreciated..God Bless.

    • Lisa Gretchko
      November 10, 2011 at 8:00 pm

      Hi Gladys, and thanks for your very kind words. Go to PlayProject.org and you’ll see lots of information about the Play Project! There are videos and other tools that might be able to help with your grandson. There are also some good books, like Dr. Greenspan’s book about the Special Needs Child. It gives parents and grandparents wonderful strategies on how to deal with their autistic youngsters. This is a very scary journey, I know. I wish you and your family all the best–hang in there! Lisa

  9. DeDe
    November 10, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Beautifully written sermon. I predict great things for Ben.

  10. Sarah
    November 10, 2011 at 10:19 am

    How wonderful for all of you. Mazel tov!

  11. Lina
    November 10, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this – it brought tears to my eyes. My son is almost 4 and also receiving floortime therapy. This gives me hope that one day he may be as wise and articulate as your son. Mazel tov.

  12. gloria
    November 11, 2011 at 12:00 am

    Thank you for sharing…what a lovely story I am in tears after reading your sons powerful speech. You must be so proud.
    We are DIR Floortime advocates in Australia and have been on this journey for 4 years now with our son who is 8 and lives with ASD. He amazes us everyday with his powerful words, reflections and his beautiful perspective of the world.

  13. November 11, 2011 at 4:20 am

    This is great to read about. I have always thought floortime to be one of the better therapies, because I believe that those with autism have so many relational deficits that need to be addressed directly. The fact that so many people are getting trained in how to use floortime, means that more and more people will be able to be helped by it. Now I just think there needs to be some kind of floortime program for adults – because I think that adults with autism and Asperger’s could really benefit from the same concepts. I am an adult with Asperger’s and I like what I hear about it. Here are some more support resources for autism and Asperger’s. http://www.aspergerssociety.org/articles/support.htm I hope that more programs like this are developed!

  14. November 11, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Gladys, Floortime is the play part of an overall approach called DIR. You can find professionals in the U.S. at http://www.icdl.com/usprograms/DIRFloortimeProfessionals.shtml . Professionals internationally are at http://www.icdl.com/intprograms/providers/index.shtml. More information and professionals also available at http://www.profectum.org/

    A great resource is Dr. Ricki Robinson’s book Autism Solutions http://drrickirobinson.com/index.html

    The Play Project, which uses the Floortime approach, is at http://www.playproject.org/

    An easy to read general parenting book using the Floortime priniciples is “Playful Parenting” by Lawrence Cohen. http://www.playfulparenting.com/

    A general overview of the Floortime part is http://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/treatment/floortime-dir

    I hope that helps!

  15. brad
    November 11, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Any suggestions on where to receive Floor Time AFFORDABLY? We are in Delaware County, outside of Philadelphia. Most places I have called are $500 a month.

  16. November 11, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    ” autistic children can recover to the point of being spiritual.”

    What made you suppose that we aren’t also spiritual _before_ we “recover”?
    Do you think that only people without autism have spirit[s]?

  17. Theresha Szypulski
    November 11, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Your son articulated better than I have ever been able to– the power and beauty of spoken words. As a speech pathologist specializing in working with individuals with autism I have felt so privileged and blessed to work to provide the gift of communication, in any form- but especially spoken. His words brought tears to my eyes and fulfillment to my heart. God bless you all!!

  18. Ken Music
    November 15, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Beautiful speech by an articulate young man. Thanks for sharing, Lisa. I can see Ben Is a very special kid. Very aware. Very thoughtful. Very sensitive. Needless to say, we are all glad you met up with Rick all those years ago. Congratulations & mazel tov!! Love, Ronda & Ken

  19. December 3, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    I have read many articles on the subject of alcoholism and AA. Most are full of misinformation, misunderstanding and untruth. This is my attempt, as a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, to help you understand this cunning, baffling and powerful disease and how AA helps us live sober, one day at a time.

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