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Erika Ellis, OTD, OTR/L and her pediatric patient enjoy a social play routine together.

When Sarah McDonnell, MA CCC-SLP, first launched Play Works Children’s Therapies in 2016, she provided therapy to five families. Now, four years later, her business is helping hundreds of families from throughout the Gorge and approximately 200 youth every week.

Play Works Children’s Therapies recently opened it’s second clinic in Hood River, home to the Play Works Center for Autism Services, at 2690 May St., Suite 102.

“This location is unique from our pediatric outpatient clinic on the Heights, as this clinic is ABA centric, while offering wrap around services including occupational, speech, and physical therapy,” McDonnell said.

Located in Hood River, Play Works taps the evidenced-based power of play and uses it in the specialties of speech and language therapy, applied behavioral analysis (ABA), occupational therapy, physical therapy, and feeding therapy.

“When we first opened, we were the second pediatric therapy clinic in the area, so deciding to expand our scope and square footage felt risky as all business ventures do,” she said.

McDonnell is currently working with funders, specifically state funded insurance plans, to access reasonable rates so that she may continue to attract and retain the highest level of staff in order to meet the needs of families in the Columbia River Gorge.

Play Works Center for Autism Services works with children ages 2-18 and their families, with programming including the Intensive Early Childhood Program and After School programs for adolescents and teens with Autism and related disorders.

Play Works addresses conditions ranging from developmental delays to motor skill impairments, speech and feeding disorders, autism, memory/cognition and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Since the business launched, McDonnell has expanded her children’s therapy clinic to a staff of 20, relocated three times to accommodate growing patient access and patient services, and most recently added a second location. Today, Play Works is the only resource of its kind not just in the Columbia River Gorge but the entire state of Oregon. Play Works also offers bilingual (Spanish) services and provides access to all people, regardless of their social, cultural, linguistic or economic backgrounds.

Play Works is planning its fourth open house and patient celebration in March (details will be announced soon) at the Center for Autism Services. The event will honor the excellence of its growing staff, the patients they serve, and their second location. For more information, call 541-716-1316.

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