Floortime is a developmental intervention involving meeting a child at his or her current developmental level, and challenging them to move up the hierarchy of milestones outlined in the DIR Model. Floortime is child-focused—the parent or therapist follows the child's lead, with playful positive attention while tuning in to the child's interests. Once the child connects with the adult specific techniques are used to challenges and entice the child to move up the developmental ladder. Dr. Stanley Greenspan and his wife Nancy described this intervention for the first time their 1989 book, The Essential Partnership. Floortime has since made its way into homes, clinics, schools and hospitals as an effective intervention for various types of learning and developmental challenges. Over the last 10 years significant research has been published internationally supporting Floortime.

The DIR model is based on the idea that due to individual processing differences children with ASD do not master the early developmental milestones that are the foundations of learning. DIR outlines six core developmental stages that children with ASD have often missed or not mastered:

  • Stage One: Regulation and Interest in the World: Being calm and feeling well enough to attend to a caregiver and surroundings. Have shared attention.
  • Stage Two: Engagement and Relating: Interest in another person and in the world, developing a special bond with preferred caregivers. Distinguishing inanimate objects from people.
  • Stage Three: Two way intentional communication: Simple back and forth interactions between child and caregiver. Smiles, tickles, anticipatory play.
  • Stage Four: Continuous Social Problem solving: Using gestures, interaction, babble to indicate needs, wants, pleasure, upset. Get a caregiver to help with a problem. Using pre-language skills to show intention and become a creative and dynamic problem solver.
  • Stage Five: Symbolic Play: Using words, pictures, symbols to communicate an intention, idea. Communicate ideas and thoughts, not just wants and needs.
  • Stage Six: Bridging Ideas: This stage is the foundation of logic, reasoning, emotional thinking and a sense of reality.

Most typically developing children have mastered these stages by age 5 years. However, children with ASD struggle with or have missed some of these vital developmental stages. When these foundational abilities are strengthened through the child's lead and through meaningful play with a caregiver, children begin to climb up the developmental ladder. An introduction to DIR/Floortime can be found in the book - Engaging Autism: Using the Floortime Approach to Help Children Relate, Communicate, and Think. By Stanley Greenspan, M.D. and Serena Wieder, PhD.

While interventions such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and the Lovaas technique have shown thoroughly evaluated empirical evidence as the primary intervention for autism spectrum disorders, new types of developmental interventions such as Floortime, have emerged in response to some claims that the systematic teaching involved with behavioral interventions may not result in generalized learning.

Other articles related to "floortime":

Autism Therapies - Educational Interventions - Relationship Based, Developmental Models - Floortime/DIR
... The Floortime/DIR (Developmental, Individual Differences based, Relationship based ) approach is a developmental intervention to autism developed by Stanley Greenspan and Serena Weider ... When addressed through a combination of sensory support and DIR/Floortime techniques, the facilitator is playfully obstructive to redirect the child to play and relate to their therapist ... Exponents of the floortime approach claim that children can thus become more social, less repetitive and also develop symbolic abilities ...