Floortime is a type of social-pragmatic play therapy based on the Developmental Individual-difference Relationship-based model (DIR) created by Stanley Greenspan, M.D. and Serena Wieder, Ph.D. The theory behind floortime is to encourage a child with an autism spectrum disorder to interact, communicate and explore by meeting them on their level.
Floortime does not specifically target language, motor skills, or cognition, but seeks to foster emotional development and interpersonal connection.
What does it involve?
During Floortime, the parent, caregiver or therapist sits on the floor with the child, joining them on their level. The play is led by the child, and the adult is responsive. If the child chooses a toy and taps it repeatedly, you might choose a similar toy and tap it too. You may put your toy near the child’s toy or add an element of language. In this way, you build back-and-forth interaction while encouraging the child to explore their interest. The child is challenged to be creative and spontaneous in play, which also incorporates sensory stimulation, motor skills and communication.
Occupational therapists, special education teachers, child psychologists and speech therapists may be trained in Floortime methods. Formal Floortime sessions with therapists may last two to five hours a day. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to use Floortime with the child at home.
If there is no local source for formal Floortime therapy, parents and caregivers can also attend workshops or view online resources to learn Floortime methodology and use these techniques at home.
Floortime is most beneficial in a calm environment.
The goal of Floortime is to foster emotional connections and help reach six important developmental goals. These goals are two-way communication, complex communication, emotional ideas, emotional thinking, intimacy, and self-regulation and interest in the world.
The results of several clinical trials support the conclusion that Floortime significantly improves the emotional development of children with autism spectrum disorders and helps reduce some primary symptoms of autism.
Your child’s special education teacher, school psychologist or local therapists may not be trained in using Floortime.
If you pay out-of-pocket for therapy, it can become expensive.
Depending on where you live, it may be difficult to travel to therapy appointments