Although still a relatively new intervention in Australia, DIR® Floortime is an evidence based approach becoming increasingly utilised by a range of clinicians (e.g. Speech Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, and Psychologists) to assist children presenting with a range of developmental disorders, including diagnoses such as Autism Spectrum Disorder.
So what does ‘DIR®’ mean?
There is a good reason why we use the acronym– the full descriptive title is a bit of a mouthful!
“DIR® is the Developmental, Individual-differences, & Relationship-based model that has become the foundation for understanding child development and providing support and intervention that helps children reach their fullest potential. The DIR® model is also a framework that helps clinicians, parents and educators conduct comprehensive assessments and develop educational and/or intervention programs tailored to the unique challenges and strengths of each child. DIRFloortime® is the application of the DIR model into practice.” (DIR® and the DIRFloortime® Approach.) (retrieved from http://www.icdl.com/DIR).
The DIR® approach looks at the six core ‘capacities’ (milestones) that contribute to the development of various skills. These capacities include shared attention, engagement and problem solving, to name a few. Rather than focussing primarily on the development of isolated skills, a clinician will determine a child’s mastery of these six capacities, and focus on supporting and building these, which contribute towards the development of specific skills.
This all sounds very theoretical...
This leads us to the ‘Floortime’ in DIRFloortime® - the ‘heart’ of the intervention program. This approach has an interactive, play-based focus between the adult and child. When we think of ‘floortime’, some of us may grimace at the thought of spending hours on our hands and knees. DIRFloortime® may involve time on the floor, but it more importantly refers to getting down to your child’s level. We do this to become aware of their specific interests, and also their mastery of the six capacities. So follow what your child enjoys! This may be staring at a toy train intently – or spinning and looking at the ceiling. Try not to jump right in – ‘wait, watch and wonder’ to determine what your child finds particularly enjoyable in their activity -and how you can them join them in this.
Creating a shared world and challenging your child within the approach.
When we are in a shared world with the child, we can begin building on those six capacities that are central to the DIR® framework! In this shared world, we help them learn by challenging them to move up the developmental ladder and develop those crucial capacities.
A final note...
Capacities within the DIR® framework lead to academic capacities. While play-based in nature, it is highly effective for children with a range of abilities. This is a very brief summary of the DIR® approach. If you would like more information, contact the clinic and refer to the following links.
Official DIRFloortime® website: http://www.icdl.com/
Link to further training for parents http://www.stanleygreenspan.com/