Free P.L.A.Y.

In 2012, a young mother walked into the Ann Arbor District Library’s first “Play Connection for Children on the Autism Spectrum” event and told youth librarian Laura Raynor that she was hoping for some answers. The mother wondered if her young boy was on the autism spectrum, or if she was oversensitive. So during the event — an open play for families — she spoke with professionals from the P.L.A.Y. (Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters) Project, a therapy program for children with autism that focuses on parent/child relationships. (We wrote about the P.L.A.Y. Project in our September issue.) By the time she left, the mother felt secure in what she should do next and who she could contact to evaluate her son. As Raynor watched that family leave, she decided to host the event again.

This year’s session, on Saturday, February 23 from 1 to 3 pm, will again involve staff from the P.L.A.Y. project, including Dr. Rick Solomon, founder of the project and Ann Arbor area developmental and behavioral pedia- trician. In a casual atmosphere, the staff will play alongside children and their families. They will answer any questions and provide tips to better parent/child interaction. The play area will include puppets, a sensory station, an active section with trucks and tunnels
and even a quiet area for children who feel overstimulated or need downtime. A smell expert, Michelle Kydd, will also attend, so parents can explore how certain scents affect their children.

Raynor hopes to watch at least one family gain from the event just as the young mother did last year. “I know that most families that walk in the door are very knowledgeable about their chil- dren, because they’re there,” she said. “But we hope that even the most knowledgeable will pick up even one little tip on the type of scent their child reacts to or a new toy they didn’t think about before that their child likes.”

The event will be held at the Ann Arbor District Library's Pittsfield Branch Program Room, and is open to children in preschool to 5th grade with a parent or caregiver. For more information, visit