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Dr. Grant specializes in working with children, adolescents, and families, including working with autistic children, neurodivergent children, and those diagnosed with ADHD and other developmental disorders. He is the creator of AutPlay® Therapy, an integrative family play therapy approach. He is also a Certified Autism Movement Therapy and trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Therapy, a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder/trauma-related therapy for children and adults.

Dr. Grant is an international speaker and keynote presenter having presented for the American Counseling Association, Association for Play Therapy, American Mental Health Counselors Association, and The World Autism Congress. He is a multi-published author of several articles, book chapters, and books including the following titles:

AutPlay® Therapy for Children and Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum
Play-Based Interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorder
Understanding Sensory Processing Challenges, A Workbook for Children and Teens
Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder, A Workbook for Children and Teens
Understanding ADHD: A Workbook for Children and Teens
AutPlay® Therapy Play and Social Skills Groups: A Ten Session Model
Play Therapy Theories and Perspectives: Diversity of Thought in the Field
Dr. Grant is a founding board member for the non-profit organization Stars for Autism. He is currently serving on the board of directors (president-elect) for the Association for Play Therapy. He is also a part-time instructor in the Play Therapy Certificate program at Mid America Nazarene University (MNU). Dr. Grant is also a Certified Behavioral Life Coach through the PeopleKeys® program and provides life coaching, consultations, and play therapy supervision services. He is also a Board Certified Telepractice Specialist providing therapy and coaching through tele processes. 

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Yeah. Hey, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of the autism and action podcast today we've got another very special guest, we've got Dr. Grant with ot play therapy out of Springfield, Missouri. Welcome to the show.

Thank you. I mean, it's really, I'm happy to be here. Thank you for inviting me.

Well, I can't wait to learn all about what it is that you're doing in your community to help the autism population, if you wouldn't mind just kind of share what it is how you work with families, and all about play therapy.

Absolutely. I'll try to be succinct here, because I mean, I probably could talk on for hours without taking a pause about this. So we'll try to be as succinct as possible. Um, yeah, all play therapy itself is a play therapy approach to actually an integrative play therapy approach, family play therapy approach that's focused on helping address the mental health needs of autistic children neurodivergent children and their families. And so it's really, very, I guess, highlighted by the use of the therapeutic powers of play, and seminal play therapy theories being integrated in to address the issues that may be coming in to mental health therapy. So that could be a whole range of things that could be something like a sensory processing challenges, or it could be a trauma issue that the child is dealing with, it could be as simple as the child is struggling with their parents getting a divorce. But you know, it could be anything, it doesn't necessarily have to mean that they're coming in specifically because they have autism. They could just be coming in for a whole variety of needs. And then we want to be able to understand that how do we address those needs and work with those children who are neurodivergent, because they're not going to process maybe respond, react, or express the same way as a neurotypical child might that you're used to working with him play therapy. And that's why I'll play therapy really comes in and helps the therapist have this guide, and this framework to work with these children and these families.

Well, I know that this is very needed. Very, very needed. And how many? Are you the only clinician at your practice? Or do you have several that are trained in what you're doing?

Yeah, Andy, there's the main clinic is in southwest Missouri, and we have 12, mental health professionals here in the clinic. And I believe all of them are trained in all play therapy. And they all you know, work with autistic population and other related conditions issues. And then there are other specialties here too, people kind of have their preferences for other things they like to do as well. And then we have a couple of psychologists who do mainly psychological evaluations and test it. But so here at the clinic, yeah, we're very sort of play therapy focused all play therapy focused. And then outside of here, there's the opportunity for mental health professionals to be trained, and I'll play therapy. So we have certified play therapy providers, as well, we call them people who've completed the training all over the United States, and I just counted this a few weeks ago, so I can give this accurate information. 16 other countries, we verified all play therapy providers. So I think for mental health professionals, there's a real connection to something that is viable, that does help that gives them tools and gives them good information that is play based and that is focused toward mental health professionals and knows how to kind of integrate and put forth that humanistic side into the therapy work. I think that resonates with a lot of mental health professionals. So they really have to do appreciate the training.

How long does the train normally take to go through?

usually takes about two days. If we're in person together, it's two pretty long days. It's usually like two to seven or eight hour days that we're together, and then additional readings, there's a book that they would read prior to the training. And then there's a short recorded webinar that they would watch, prior to the training. And similar experience, if they were participating in a webinar training, we've done those since 2020.


we've started offering the two day webinar. And then there's also a home study self paced home study training, that people can access just on their own, and take their time to go through the material. The same information, whether it's in person webinar, or home study, it's just a different format, so people can access it the way that it's gonna work best for them.

And that's so needed to especially this day and age, our professionals are so busy trying to work life balance, and everything's gone telehealth, right. So they're on the computer all the time. So it is important to be able to fit that in where they can about how much would it cost to go through the program to get certified to be a therapist.

Typically, it's around 450 US dollars to complete the whole thing. And then it's a lifetime certification. So it you know, you're not expected to renew it every two years or anything like that. And that price does fluctuate if there's a third party hosting the training. So oftentimes, a third party will just call us and want a trainer to come provide the training. So they're technically the host. So they would say that the price, it's usually stays around the same no matter who's doing it, but it might be a little cheaper, somewhere, or a little more expensive. And then it changes greatly if you're in another country, because of all the conversion rates and all of that, right, right, people just have to check that out. But yeah, we try to make it affordable for what they get. And then they always have the option of following up with supervision or consultation anytime they want. It's not required. But it's there. If they want to even just set up a one time consultation, because they're having a lot of questions about a particular child, we can do that. And then in our home study trainings, there's a lot of other jump off topics. There's a six hour training on using our play with trauma issues in autistic children. And there's one that's focused more on sensory processing issues. So just some jump off topics that people have a special sort of interest, that they can continue on their training. Again, it's not required. It's just optional, if that fits their needs.

That's a great bonus there. Because I think that's very helpful to have that one on one support. And to with knowing that, you know, you guys do have the supervision and consultation available, you know, that, I think, really encouraging to be able to participate in the art play therapist certification program. So

yeah, I love that part. Actually, I think it's just so regardless, I mean, even if we weren't talking about all play, or autism, if you and I were just LPC chat, and it's just so, so beneficial to have access to supervision consultation, because we all just run into that sometimes, right?

Oh, yeah, you do run

by another person. And you know,

when you've met one person with autism, you'd have truly meant that one person with autism, and I know who said that quote, but I don't have it written in front of me. Dr.

Stephen shore.

Yes. Thank you, Dr. Stephen shore. So in every case is unique. And every every case does have its own challenges, and only

yes or no.

So it's important to address those issues. Is there anything else at all that you would like to share with our listeners today about play therapy and what you do?

Well, I'm a big fan of it. Obviously, I just, you know, started out, you know, having this love and heart which I still have for play therapy, I just think it's the best thing out there for children. And I just really felt passionately that those therapeutic powers of play could also be used to help autistic and neurodivergent kids in ways that I just wasn't seeing that happening when I kind of put all this protocol together. So hopefully, other people can feel that way too. You know, if they dive into this, it doesn't mean that it replaces Something else like occupational therapy or speech therapy. Oftentimes, I'm working with those professionals in collaboration if those needs are there, but it definitely gives you a great tool if you're a mental health professional to really address the mental health needs, I'm dealing with a lot of things like low self worth, and self esteem, depression, anxiety, trauma, I mentioned getting bullied at school. So many of these things that go really deep for a lot of our kids. And that's really the thing I love being able to help them class and help them navigate and understand and really heal from. And then, of course, we involve the parents a lot. That's a big part. I love parents, parents, our partners, their co change agents in this process. And that's really important. So if anybody has any questions, I guess, you know, just check out the website. And feel free to email us because we're happy to answer questions and give more information. I guess on the parents side, I should mention this on the website, there is a find a certified all play therapy provider. So if a parent was watching, and they thought this might be a good fit for us, they could go there and look up by state and see if there was anyone around them that they could call and talk to more.

And that your website is www ot play

Yes. And what's

the best email for them to get in touch with you guys?

Really easy info. I nfo at all play

Well, Dr. Grant, I just want to say thank you so much for taking the time to be here today and share what you're doing with all of our listeners.

Thank you. And thank you for taking your time to offer this podcast. Lots of other great topics on here. So if somehow you're just finding this for the first time, go check out all the podcasts in the autism and action podcast series because there's a lot of information there. Thank you so much.

Let's Discuss!

Now, we would love to hear from you.

Do you have questions? Do you have ideas? Do you have an opinion? Do you think we missed something?

Let's have a discussion in the comments below or head over to the Autism in Action Facebook group. We would love to hear from you!

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