What It Is
This approach is one of several developmental models of autism services. DIR stands for the Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationship-based approach. It focuses on the emotional development of the child, what its founders describe as entering the child's world and taking into account "the child's feelings, relationships with caregivers, developmental level, and individual differences in a child's ability to process and respond to sensory information." The approach works with children to develop communication skills, thinking and learning abilities, body awareness, attention skills, and social and emotional functioning.
Floortime is an approach to implementing DIR that means interacting with a child at his current developmental level in a way that emphasizes taking advantage of a child's interests in a certain kind of toy, for example, to engage him so he learns skills like playing, sharing, counting, and using words.
How It Works
The Floortime philosophy creates chances for a child to learn through intensive one-on-one sessions. Parents are key players in the approach, creating learning experiences for their children. Speech therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists and others working one-on-one with the child use Floortime techniques to help her develop skills. The developers of Floortime note that a clinician may prescribe a number of 20-minute Floortime sessions per day as part of a treatment program, and add: "Floortime provides a framework that can guide various daily interactions with children; bathing, playground time, meals, etc."
Important to Know
DIR/Floortime was developed by Dr. Stanley Greenspan, a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at George Washington University Medical School, and Serena Wieder, a clinical psychologist. The approach's stated goal "is to help the child master the healthy emotional milestones that were missed in his early development and that are critical to learning. Building these foundations helps children overcome their symptoms more effectively than simply trying to change the symptoms alone." So far, notes the American Academy of Pediatrics, there is only anecdotal evidence of DIR/Floortime showing its efficacy as an autism treatment.
DIR/ Floortime Resources
- The Interdisciplinary Council on Development and Learning Disorders, founded by Greenspan and Wieder
- The Floortime Foundation