Autism: P.L.A.Y. Project

Today a leading expert on autism visited the valley to talk about a therapy he created that is showing promise for a lot of children.

The number of children with autism is growing fast.

Dr. Rick Solomon, Autism Expert: "There's no doubt that it's gone from being recognized from one in 10,000 to one in 150. And among boys it's one in every 88. So something seems to be going on."

Dr. Rick Solomon is a leading expert on autism a brain disorder that begins in childhood and affects communication and social development.

Solomon created the "play and language for autistic youngster's project" known as the "P.L.A.Y. Project." consultants make monthly visits and train parents who have children with autism how to play with them in a way that promotes their development.

Solomon: "Children with autism tend to want to go off and play by themselves but if you know how to play the right way you can truly engage your child."

The play project is for kids from 18 months to five years old.

On Tuesday Dr. Solomon visited Fresno and talked to parents and therapists about it. Fresno started a "p.l.a.y. project" a year ago through the Easter seals and is working with 20 families.

Bruce Hinman, Easter Seals President: "Parents can't say enough about the progress they see with their children."

Therapy and treatment that normally costs tens of thousands of dollars a year is free for families thanks to two generous grants.

Hinman: "We're hearing stories that parents are getting a hug from their child for the first time at three or four years old hearing them say 'I love you' when they were told they would never talk. It's just phenomenal.

The two other cities in California with P.L.A.Y. projects are Monterey and Sacramento but it will soon expand into the Bay Area.

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