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Floortime Intervention: What Is It And How Does It Work?

Floortime Intervention is Simple

Children with autism are delayed in their communication skills, display restricted or repetitive behavior, and have deficits in social interaction and reciprocity. Floortime simultaneously works to develop all three of these areas.

The DIR/Floortime Model is based on years of research about early relationships and family functioning, as well as other disciplines.

In this model of intervention, the individual working with the child (parent, caregiver, or therapist), meets the child at his or her level, entering the child’s world, and interacting with him or her.

If this sounds simple, that is because it is: interactions with the child will increase his or her emotional, social, and intellectual skills.

A Shared World

In the world the child and individual working with him or her share, communication is exchanged and increased, and meanings are negotiated through reciprocal interaction that seems a lot like “regular” playtime.

The child leads and the caregiver follows, broadening the circles of communication and interaction.

Because these early relationships and interactions are vital for healthy brain development, this intervention model affects not just behavior, but also neurological development.

Parents Play a Role

Parents and other caregivers can be trained to “administer” Floortime interventions. This intervention is easy to implement in the home setting.

Learn More

For an excellent video of Dr. Stanley Greenspan, founder of Floortime, explaining the concept, watch this video.

To see Floortime in action, watch this video to see clips from Floortime sessions over the course of two years, provided by a therapist from the P.L.A.Y. project.

Home-Based Autism Intervention

Follow the Child’s Lead

Following the child’s lead through engaging in Floortime™ sessions is a therapy in which caregivers engage with a child to help encourage the child to develop communication and other skills.

About 6 to 8 sessions of 20 o 45 minutes are recommended. In these sessions, parents or caregivers follow the child’s lead and meet him at his developmental level.

Parents meet the child not just at the figurative level, but on his physical level as well, getting down on the floor to interact with the child.

Child and caregiver play together, extending the circles of communication, using sound, words, touch, and movement to develop auditory, visual, and emotional processing.

Semistructured Problem Solving

In semistructured problem solving, caregivers set up a challenge for a child to solve. These problems can be spontaneous, requiring a child to solve a problem in order to get something he wants, or they can be structured activities.

When it is evident that a child wants something, the caregiver can set up a challenge or problem the child must solve in order to get what he wants.

The caregiver, then, is helping to create the child’s interest in and motivation for something, and then the child must solve a problem to get that something.

These sessions will vary in length and frequency depending on the child’s abilities and what areas need to be developed (e.g. the need to increase language or motor planning). These sessions can take place every day.

Motor, Sensory, and Perceptual-Motor Activities and Visual-Spatial Activities

The activities in this group help build basic processing capacities to help children become engage and regulated when they interact with others.

Some children may need organizing and calming activities to build awareness of how their bodies take up space, or they may need activities such as jumping or swinging to build muscle tone.

Work with Therapists in Order to Work at Home

Talk with your child’s therapists and enlist their help in setting up a home program.

Different therapists focus on different areas of processing, so get specific recommendations on how you might best utilize these therapies to work on your child’s strengths and weaknesses.

Keep it Fun, Do it Daily

These activities usually involve a total of about 3 hours a day in shorter chunks of time.

The activities may occur more frequently in children at early developmental levels since they are fun and they help increase a child’s pleasant interactions with others.

Adjust the activities according to your child’s needs and trust yourself to determine what is working best for your child.