DIR / Floortime™ Model

Therapy for Children with Autism/Special Needs

Quickstepz Paediatric Therapy uses the Developmental, Individual-Difference, Relationship-Based (DIR) / FloortimeModel developed by Dr. Stanley Greenspan and Serena Wieder, Ph.D. as the basis of intervention when working with autistic children and their families. The DIR Model™ is a comprehensive assessment and intervention program that combines an understanding of the child’s:

developmental level

differences in sensory processing and motor planning capacities

most important relationships

The DIR (Developmental, Individual-Difference, Relationship-Based)/Floortime Model™ provides a comprehensive framework for understanding and supporting the child’s development. At the heart of this approach is the role of the child’s natural emotions and interests which has been shown to be essential for learning interactions that enable the different parts of the mind and brain to work together and to build strong foundations for social, emotional, and intellectual capacities rather than focusing on developing isolated skills.

"D" is for Developmental

Understanding where the child is developmentally is essential to planning an intervention program. The Six Developmental Milestones describe the developmental stage that every child must master for healthy social, emotional and intellectual growth. These six levels include:

1) Shared Attention and Regulation

2) Intimacy and Engagement

3) Purposeful Two-Way Communication

4) Interactive problem solving

5) Emotional Ideas

6) Emotional Thinking

"I" is for Individual-Difference

This involves assessing and understanding the child's sensory profile, processing capacities and motor planning/sequencing abilities that may be impacting his/her ability to grow and learn. This describes ways each child takes in, responds to, and comprehends sensations such as sound and touch, and how the child plans and sequences actions and ideas. Assessment of these individual differences helps us to plan our intervention program and guides us in how we approach and engage with the child. This is the “driving force” behind the child. For example, What is it that motivates the child? What are they interested in? What makes them scared or overwhelmed?

"R" is for Relationship-Based

This refers to having an emphasis on strengthening the relationship between the child and their parents. This is the focal point of the DIR Model™, encouraging parents/caregivers to interact with the child in a way that helps him/her advance developmentally.

Children achieve these above developmental milestones at different ages and there is a wide variation even among children who don’t have developmental challenges. As a general guide, typically children develop these milestones by the age of 4 years. What is important is not necessarily the age at which a child is able to master each milestone, but that each one is mastered, as each milestone forms the foundation for the next. “Floortime” is a systematic way of working with a child to help him climb the developmental ladder, and is the basis of what we call the developmental approach to therapy. It takes a child back to the very first milestone he may have missed or not developed completely and begins the developmental process anew. By working intensively with the child and his parents, the child can climb the ladder of developmental milestones, one rung at a time, to begin to acquire the learning processes he is missing. Parents are coached in their interactions with their child so that whenever they are communicating or interacting with their child, they are aware of where their child is at and how they can change how they are interacting with their child to enable the child to engage at an optimal level. A child who has begun to master these milestones will have developed important foundations for learning and developing relationships with others that will last a lifetime.

Age is no barrier to the development of these milestones, and we can address these issues at any stage in life. A common misconception is that this approach is limited to young children. Many school age children who present with learning difficulties have ongoing issues with developing peer relationships and social/emotional skills. For example, some of these children have a lot of difficulty sustaining true reciprocal interactions with their peers, without being in complete control or quite passive in their manner. They may also have difficulties reading the subtle emotional and affective cues of their play partner and ‘reading between the lines’. These children benefit from the DIR Model™ through incorporating developmentally age appropriate play in their intervention program.

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Autism & Your Child blogspot

Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Both children and adults with autism typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and play activities.


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