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Suffolk Center for Speech


Developmental-Individual Relationship (DIRFloortime-Model): created by Dr. Stanley Greenspan

What is it?

  • It is an intervention that is used to promote an individual’s development through a respectful, playful, joyful, and engaging process.
  • It is a systematic way of working with children to help them move forward developmentally.
  • It promotes development by encouraging children to interact with parents and others through play.
  • It uses the power of relationships and human connections to promote engagement, communication, positive behaviors, and thinking.

It DOES NOT work on speech, motor, or cognitive skills in isolation. It addresses these areas through its focus on emotional development (Floortime | Autism Speaks, 2022).

What does it do?

This model emphasizes identification of each child’s individual differences in the way he or she processes sounds, sights, sensations, and movements. It also focuses on how parents, caregivers, therapists, and educators can tailor their interactions/relationships with the child to provide maximal opportunities to achieve the described milestones (Roth and Worthington 2021).

Who do we use it with?

Children with autism and other special needs.

Where and when do we use it?

Floortime takes place in a calm environment. This can be at home or in a professional setting.

Why do we use it?

Floor-time aims to help the child reach six key milestones that contribute to emotional and intellectual growth (Floortime | Autism Speaks, 2022):

  • Self-regulation and interest in the world
  • Intimacy, or engagement in relationships
  • Two-way communication
  • Complex communication
  • Emotional ideas
  • Emotional thinking

How do we use it?

“Get down on the floor and engage in the following set of steps 6 to 10 times per day for 20-minute periods:

  • Pay attention to the child’s individual behaviors.
  • Locate an “entry point” into the child’s system by imitating/joining in his or her behavior (e.g., jumping, rubbing a spot on the table).
  • Engage the child this way for a few minutes, and then introduce variations on the theme for both of you to embrace.
  • Gradually lead the child into mastering the milestones identified previously to create the experience of a “shared world” between the child and adult.” (Roth and Worthington, 2021).

Over time, PLAY became about the RELATIONSHIP and not about the toy.

  • “Floortime is a technique that helps child development by having children and caregivers play or do activities together.”
  • “Home-based practice is the time when parents/caregivers help children develop certain skills that might be a challenge for them.”
  • “Individual therapy sessions with therapists that help develop relationships between caregivers and children that benefit children’s communication, emotions, needs and logic.” (Praphatthanakunwong, Kiatrungrit, Hongsanguansri and Nopmaneejumruslers, 2018).

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