Easter Seals of Central Illinois is changing the lives of children every day. Through a special program called the “Play Project,” families are able to be a part of the progress.
Meet Landon France. The active 1st grader was diagnosed with Autism when he was three years old.
His mother, Lynde France, said, “He was developing perfectly until about one and half, two. Then we just started noticing some subtle signs.”
That’s when parents Nick and Lynde took Landon to Easter Seals. There they discovered the PLAY Project.
Amy Watt specializes in this project and works for Easter Seals. She said, “The PLAY project, the acronym stands for Play Language Autistic Youngsters and so there's six levels of development."
Through therapy, she helps autistic children expand their comfort zones through things the child likes to do. Like a game of hide and seek. All of the activities include the whole family.
Watt said, "Landon was at a level 1, level 2. He mainly just played with trains, he was very hard to engage with kind of just wanted to be in his own world and now, Three years later he is creating games, he's coming and inviting with us what he wants to play."
Lynde added, “What the PLAY project and Amy, what they've done for us, they've show us how to play with him and join him in his world, instead of trying to pull him out all the time."
An added bonus for the France family is that Amy comes to their home. That helps them avoid the more than hour drive from Table Grove to Peoria. Lynde said, “"PLAY therapy has been, and we talk about it all the time, it's been probably the single best thing that's happened to Landon and our family."
It’s a life-changing program that’s giving Landon a bright future and his parents said their goals for him keep getting bigger, all because of Easter Seals. “When you're faced with the diagnosis that Landon had at first, your whole view of parenting and the hopes and dreams that you have, had, to change. It doesn't mean you don't have any. They are just different. And with the PLAY project, we have wonderful hopes for him."
You can help support the children of Easter Seals at the Telethon on Saturday, March 1. It airs on WMBD 31 beginning at 6 PM.