Developmental, Individual Difference, Relationship Based Model/Floortime


DIR/Floortime therapy builds an increasingly larger circle of interaction between the child and adult in a developmentally-based sequence. Practitioners describe six stages of emotional development that children must meet in order to develop a foundation for more advanced learning. Think of a developmental ladder that needs to be climbed one rung at a time. Children with autism may have difficulty climbing this ladder for many reasons related to their autism. DIR/Floortime involves the adults helping a child to move up this developmental ladder by following the child’s lead and building on what the child does in order to incorporate and encourage more interactions between child and adult. Through mutual shared engagement, the caregiver uses techniques to engage the child in ever more complex interactions. 


The Developmental portion includes the six developmental milestones that every child must master for healthy emotional and intellectual growth. These include regulation of body and attention, engagement with others, initiation and response to communication (opening and closing circles of communication), using communication to solve problems, thinking and playing creatively, and building bridges between ideas in logical ways which lead to higher level capacities to think in multicausal, grey area, and reflective ways. These developmental capacities are essential for spontaneous and empathic relationships as well as the mastery of academic skills. 


This model also takes into account the individual differences of the unique biologically-based ways that each child takes in and responds to sensory inputs. Some children are over or under responsive to sound or touch and may seek out or seek to avoid these sensations.


The therapy is “relationship-based” in that it features learning relationships with caregivers, educators, therapists, peers, and others who tailor their affect-based interactions to the child’s individual differences and developmental capacities to enable progress in mastering the essential foundations. 


Read more about DIR/Floortime here.

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