People with autism, like everyone, need to be calm and regulated enough to engage in warm, emotionally connected relationships that are truly reciprocal with mutual growth and learning (e.g. between parent and child, teacher and student, employee and fellow employee, etc.). DIR/Floortime® looks at the developmental level of the person (regulation, engagement, gestural reciprocity, etc.), often using the Functional Emotional Developmental Scale, the individual differences of the person (with things like talking, moving, and other things), and uses our relationships with others as the most important way to learn and grow together.
In DIR/Floortime®, every time we talk, play, or teach we start by seeing if the other person is calm enough to do things with us. If not, we help the person settle down. Usually that means just waiting a bit and seeing what the person is doing (following the person’s lead). Sometimes it means doing other things with the person to help them calm down. The next thing we do is woo the person into an interaction, usually by either joining in or playfully getting in the way of the other person. We look for the ‘gleam in the eye’ that comes when you know the other person knows that you are both being playful. When we do this, the other person usually does something different, and so we keep doing things to see what the other person does. We try to keep these circles of play going, and as we do this, we build a real, growing, learning bond with the other person. We can do this with all sorts of people, from children who seem to only flap their hands to people who can speak really well but get stuck with things like making friends. We do DIR/Floortime® all day, every day. It’s fun when we play – and with young children that are often on the floor – but it can be done in the car, at the store, in class, at home, and in any situation. DIR/Floortime® helps people react better to change and to the things that bother them, from scratchy clothes or loud noise to mean kids or even mean bosses. DIR/Floortime® can help people learn how to care about other people and think about how other people feel. DIR/Floortime® is a very useful way to think about and help people with autism and autism-like problems.
DIR/Floortime® goals follow functional, developmental, emotional levels to assist the person in improving and mastering necessary developmental skills.
I. Self-Regulation and Attention
Goal: Take in sights and sounds and maintain shared attention
II. Engagement and Relating
Goal: Woo another and be wooed, stay engaged through emotions in warm interaction
III. Use Affect to Convey Intent – Two Way Communication
Goal: To do this for requests, emerging back and forth interactions
IV. Behavioral Organization and Problem Solving
Goal: Continuous flow of affective interactions with people for shared social problem solving
V. Creates and Elaborates With Symbols
Goal: Represents ideas and emotional themes in play and other interactions.
VI. . Emotional Thinking: Logical –Abstract
Goal: Bridges ideas, elaborates and can reflect on actions, motives, aware of time and space
Website: http://www.floortime.org or http://www.icdl.com