Floortime (also known as Dr. Greenspan's DIR model for Intervention) is a therapeutic model for early and ongoing intervention for children who are missing their developmental milestones. Children with Fragile X Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Turner Syndrome, often do not develop awareness of themselves or others and therefore struggle to develop language, social skills, sequencing skills and sensory integration. Floortime presents an alternative to behaviorism models like ABA (applied behavior analysis) and is, on the surface, a polar opposite of the strict conditioning interventions sometimes applied to the same population.
Floortime is based on productive play. Practitioners physically get down on the floor with children and engage in the behaviors these children are most comfortable with and interested in. Then, through play, the practitioner attempts to extend and expand the child's repertoire of interactions. The steps of Floortime after initially observing and establishing your supportive presence include the following: (taken from http://www.coping.org/intervention/floortm.htm#Five)
FOLLOW THE CHILD'S LEAD
After your initial approach, following a child's lead simply means being a supportive play partner who is an "assistant" to the child and allows the child to set the tone, direct the action, and create personal dramas. This enhances the child's self-esteem and ability to be assertive, and gives child a feeling that "I can have an impact on the world." As you support the child's play, the child benefits from experiencing a sense of warmth, connectedness and being understood.
EXTEND AND EXPAND PLAY
As you follow the child's lead, extending and expanding a child's play themes involves making supportive comments about the child's play without being intrusive. This helps the child express own ideas and defines the direction of the drama. Next, asking questions to stimulate creative thinking can keep the drama going, while helping the child clarify the emotional themes involved, e.g.: suppose a child is crashing a car: Rather than ask critically, Why are those cars crashing? You may respond empathetically, Those cars have so much energy and are moving fast. Are they trying to get somewhere?
CHILD CLOSES THE CIRCLE OF COMMUNICATION
As you open the circle of communication when you approach the child, the child closes the circle when the child builds on your comments and gestures with comments and gestures of own. One circle flows into another, and many circles may be opened and closed in quick succession as you interact with the child. By building on each other's ideas and gestures, the child begins to appreciate and understand the value of two way communication.
The first name for Floortime was DIR which stood for: identifying " the child's developmental level of emotional and intellectual functioning (D); determines his individual way of reacting to and comprehending movement, sounds, sights, and other sensations (I); and formulates learning relationships and interactions at home, in school, and in different therapies (speech, occupational therapy) geared to the child's profile (R). "[((bibcite http://www.totalysensesational.com/id16.html))]
The nurturing, supportive, human interactions of Floortime can seem to be in sharp contrast to the behavior and reward systems in ABA. The two therapies are often informally applied together to give children the best of both possible worlds. For example, technical assistance with skills such as tying shoes or getting dressed might be most efficiently addressed using ABA techniques of strict operant conditioning, while extending the repertoire of play, social interactions, and awareness my be more effectively addressed using Floortime.
The goal is to help children develop through stages of relating, communicating and thinking to help them with social relatedness and school readiness. According to Dr. Greenspan's research these stages include:
1. Regulation and Attention: calmly observing the world around you.
2. Engagement: with others
3. Reciprocal Emotional Engagement: initiating and responding in back and forth communication with others including pre-lingual cooing, nodding, head-turning
4. Shared social problem solving or joint attention - getting an adult's attention when you need help.
5. Creating ideas (play)
6. Connecting ideas (logic)
Floortime attempts to guide children through these developmental stages by engaging in and extending their natural play styles and their specific profile of strengths and weaknesses.
More information can be found at www.floortime.org
Posted by Rachael Gabriel