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The Play Project: Helping WAFB children with autism

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- The 509th Medical Group recently announced a new program for children affected by autism at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri.

The Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters (PLAY) Project is an evidence-based, parent-mediated, intensive behavioral intervention for children with autism.

The Center for Disease Control estimates that one in 68 children is affected by autism – a disorder that causes deficits in social communication and interaction. Autism not only affects the individual with the diagnosis, but also impacts the individual’s family and community.

Here at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, we have several families enrolled in the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) due to children with autism diagnoses. Intensive behavioral interventions, such as Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy, are the standard of care for treating patients with autism. The PLAY Project is another avenue of quality treatment, supplementing current therapies.

A PLAY Project consultant visits the home and engages with the autistic child and the family to provide detailed plans that are tailored to their individual needs. This project focuses on the family relationship and helps the child to increase social interaction and social-emotional development. With the addition of this engaging new resource, families will greatly benefit from access to evidenced-based behavioral interventions in the comfort of their homes.

We focus our efforts on the children struggling to make basic social connections that most people take for granted, as well as on their families, and the challenges they’ll face as their children mature into adulthood.

The stressors and frustrations parents and siblings experience may have long-term damaging effects.

The PLAY Project seeks to mitigate these factors.

The PLAY Project’s personally tailored, high-quality care to children and families with complex medical needs, decreases parent/caregiver stress and depression, and supports Comprehensive Airman Fitness by decreasing some of the stressors. The 509th Medical Group hopes to enhance the culture of support and resiliency for our community of military families at Whiteman with the addition of the PLAY Project.

The project was initially conceived in 2015 as a consulting program at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Since its inception, it also has expanded to Barksdale AFB, Louisiana.

For more information, visit www.playproject.org or contact the Exceptional Family Member Program at 660-687-6032.