As an increasing number of children are diagnosed with autism, researchers are looking to parent facilitated play therapy as a cheaper, more accessible alternative to traditional behavior therapy.

There are not enough therapists to handle the influx of children with autism, so researchers are looking to early intervention models like the Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters, or the P.L.A.Y. Project, to fill the void. This play therapy approach relies on parents being trained by a professional to be their own therapy provider. Then, parents conduct 20 to 25 hours of play therapy weekly with their child who has autism.

Not only could play therapy be more accessible to families, but it is also cheaper, costing just $4,000 a year versus the $60,000 price tag of traditional models like applied behavioral analysis, or ABA.

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Across the country about 3,000 children are already participating in play therapy, which is also being used in England and Australia.

A three-year study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health is examining whether the P.L.A.Y. Project model is effective, reports The Detroit News. To read more click here.