The benefits of DIR Floortime Therapy – It’s a developmental approach that focuses on fostering emotional and social growth in children. It is based on the Developmental, Individual Difference, Relationship-based (DIR) Model, which was created by Dr. Stanley Greenspan and Dr. Serena Wieder. DIR Floortime Therapy is a child-centered approach that focuses on building relationships between the child and the caregiver, rather than just teaching specific skills.
DIR® is the Developmental, Individual-differences, and Relationship-based model (pronounced saying each letter as an initialism: D.I.R.). DIR provides a foundational framework for understanding human development and learning and how each person individually perceives and interacts with the world differently. It outlines the critical role social-emotional development has on overall human development starting at birth and continuing throughout the lifespan. The model highlights the power of relationships and emotional connections to fuel development.
Through a deep understanding of the “D” ( the developmental process) and the “I” (a person’s individual differences) we can use the “R” (human relationships) to promote healthy development and to help everyone reach their fullest potential.
DIR® is rooted in the science of human development and can sound technical at times, but it is also simple. It is a pathway to promote healthy development in a respectful manner that builds connections, understanding, love, communication, and engagement.
DIRFloortime® (Floortime) is the application of the DIR® model into practice.
While the DIR® model helps us understand and promote the positive development of all children, DIR and DIRFloortime are most commonly utilized with children with educational, social-emotional, mental health, and/or developmental challenges. DIRFloortime has become most widely known as an approach to support children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). You can read more about DIR and ASD in many books including “Engaging Autism” and “The Child with Special Needs” by Drs. Greenspan and Wieder.
The objectives of the DIR® Model are to build healthy foundations for social, emotional, and intellectual capacities rather than focusing exclusively on skills and isolated behaviours.
- The “D” describes development from the perspective of the individual, where they are and where they are headed. Understanding the unique developmental process means allowing space for each person to be respected and guided in their own personal developmental journey.
- The “I” describes the unique ways each person takes in, regulates, responds to, and comprehends the world around them.
- The “R” describes how relationships fuel our development. Humans are social beings and relationships are a key to our development. DIR harnesses the key affective (emotional) aspect of these relationships to promote development.
Understanding DIR can help us promote healthy development in everyone, but it is especially powerful in helping children on the autism spectrum or with other developmental or emotional challenges.
The benefits of DIR Floortime Therapy
The basic idea behind DIR Floortime Therapy is that children learn best when they are emotionally engaged and interested in what they are learning. This is why the therapy is called “Floortime” – it involves getting down on the floor with the child and following their lead. This approach is used to build a relationship with the child and to encourage them to express their emotions and interests.
The DIR Floortime Therapy approach is based on six developmental milestones that children typically go through. These milestones include:
Capacity 1: Self-Regulation and Interest in the World (earliest emergence 0 to 3 months)
Capacity 2: Engaging and Relating (earliest emergence 2 to 7 months)
Capacity 3: Intentionality and Two-Way Communication (earliest emergence 3 to 10 months)
Capacity 4: Complex Communication and Shared Problem Solving (earliest emergence 9 to 18 months)
Capacity 5: Using Symbols and Creating Emotional Ideas (earliest emergence 18 to 48 months)
Capacity 6: Logical Thinking and Building Bridges between Ideas (earliest emergence 3 to 4 1/2 years)
The therapist will use these milestones as a guide to determine where the child is developmentally and what they need to work on. They will then use the Floortime approach to engage the child and help them progress through the milestones.
One of the key principles of the DIR Floortime Therapy approach is that the therapist should follow the child’s lead. This means that the therapist should focus on the child’s interests and what they are passionate about, rather than just trying to teach specific skills. For example, if a child is interested in dinosaurs, the therapist may use that interest to teach them about different types of dinosaurs, rather than just trying to teach them basic math skills. Nurture Nest Speech Pathology is a strong advocate for using children’s interests and passions within their therapy sessions to maximise engagement and joy while learning.
Another important principle of DIR Floortime Therapy is that the therapist should use a playful and interactive approach. This means that they should use games, toys, and other activities to engage the child and make learning fun. The therapist may also use physical activities, such as jumping or spinning, to help the child regulate their emotions and stay engaged.
One of the main benefits of DIR Floortime Therapy is that it is a child-centered approach. This means that the therapist is focused on building a relationship with the child, rather than just trying to teach them specific skills. This can be particularly beneficial for children who have difficulty forming relationships or who struggle with social skills.
DIR Floortime Therapy has been used to treat a wide range of developmental disorders, including autism, ADHD, and learning disabilities. It has been shown to be particularly effective for children with autism, who often struggle with social communication and emotional regulation.
In addition to working with a therapist, parents can also use the principles of DIR Floortime Therapy at home to help their child’s development. This can involve spending quality time with their child, engaging in play and imaginative activities, and following their child’s lead. Parents can also work on helping their child regulate their emotions and develop a sense of self.
If you wish to learn more about DIR Floortime and see whether this approach might suit your child, please head to https://www.icdl.com/parents