The Experience

DIR/Floortime

The Developmental, Individual Difference, Relationship-based (DIR®/Floortime) model is a framework for assessment and intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other challenges of relating and communicating. It identifies the child's; (D) Developmental level of emotional and intellectual functioning; (I) determines his Individual way of reacting to and comprehending movement, sounds, sights, and other sensations; and formulates learning; (R) Relationships and interactions at home, in school, and in different therapies (speech, occupational therapy) geared to the child's profile. The individualized learning relationships utilize the child's natural interests and emotions (by following his lead) and create interactions that help him master the stages of relating, communicating, and thinking.
 
These stages include:
  • Regulation and attention (the ability to stay calm and observe the world around him).
  • Engagement (an emotional connection to his mommy, daddy and other caregivers).
  • Reciprocal emotional signaling (initiating and responding in a back and forth manner with gestures such as cooing, head nodding, turning to look, etc.).
  • Shared social problem solving (taking daddy by the hand, and through multiple back and forth gestures getting him to pick you up so you can reach for the toy on the shelf) - also often referred to as joint attention.
  • Creating ideas (pretend play).
  • Connecting ideas logically (thinking).
The DIR®/Floortime approach is intensive and comprehensive and involves family members, educators, and therapists. The DIR®/Floortime approach creates opportunities for mastering the early stages of emotional interactions, at the same time helping different components of the mind to work together in order to build healthy foundations for relating, communicating, and thinking. This, in turn, enables children to work on the core deficits that characterize ASD and make more progress than formerly thought possible in reading and responding to emotional signals, empathy and creative and reflective thinking.