Engaging Autism through Play
The DIR-Floortime approach as developed by Dr. S. Greenspan and S. Wieder, PhD is a positive, dynamic and playful approach that redefines autism as a developmental disorder with great potential for growth and change. It makes sense of its puzzling symptoms with the help of their universal model of mental-emotional development. Sometimes children need extra help to grow these mental-emotional skills without which other cognitive, social, emotional, language, and motor skills as well as their sense of self cannot reach its full developmental potential. You will find a lot more useful information on www.floortime.org
What is DIRFloortime?
Floortime (www.floortime.org) is a child-centred approach that focuses on building relationships through interaction and play. Floortime is a specific technique to both follow the child’s natural emotional interests (lead) and at the same time challenge the child towards increasing mastery of his social, emotional and intellectual capacities. This means that the adult joins the child in what they are doing, rather than trying to teach the child what the adult wants them to do. In Floortime, adult and child aim to have fun together through playful interactions on the “floor” (hence the name ‘Floortime’), or later through conversations and interactions in other places.
DIR = Developmental – Individual-Difference – Relationship-Based
The objectives of the DIR®/Floortime™ Model are to build healthy foundations for social, emotional, and intellectual capacities rather than focusing on skills or learning specific behaviours.
Developmental – There are 6 basic functional developmental levels that form the foundation for all of a child’s relationships and learning, with each level building on the next like a developmental ladder. (See Functional Emotional Developmental Levels, FEDLs, below)
Individual differences – each child is different with their own unique biologically-based ways of responding to and relating to the world, which needs our careful attention.
Relationship-based – a child’s mind needs warm relationships with people who care and who tailor their interactions sensitively to the child’s individual differences and developmental capacities to enable progress in mastering the essential foundations
Sometimes children need extra help to grow these mental-emotional skills without which other cognitive, social, emotional, language, and motor skills as well as their sense of self cannot reach its full developmental potential.
Functional Emotional Developmental Levels
Understanding the ‘Functional Emotional Developmental Levels’ that build the mind provides us with a direction for successful intervention. Its aims are not so much ‘autism-specific’ but the same as every parent would have for their child: increasing emotional engagement, warm relationships with others, communicating with gestures and talking meaningfully, and it maps out strategies, techniques and activities to achieve this.