Floortime, known as the developmental, individualized, relationship-based (DIR) model or the Greenspan approach, is a therapeutic intervention designed to support the development of children with autism spectrum disorders or other developmental challenges. It was developed by Dr. Stanley Greenspan, a child psychiatrist and psychologist; the approach is based on the hypothesis that an affectively enriched connection is essential to fostering a child’s social, emotional, and cognitive development.
In Floortime, the primary goal is to engage the child in play with intentional interactive interventions at the child’s eye level (on the floor), where the parent follows the child’s lead and interests, encouraging the child to spontaneously communicate, problem-solve, and engage in symbolic play as the parent participates in the child’s play and extends the interaction. This approach emphasizes the importance of building warm, trusting relationships between children and adults and proves the hypothesis that this forms the basis of a child’s development.
There are several key principles of floor time.
1. Co-participation and following the child’s lead: Adults are actively involved in the child’s play by following the child’s interests and participating in activities. It is important to be with the child in the play, not the leader of the play. This helps to build a relationship and mutual trust.
2. Reading and communicating emotional signals: adults should pay close attention to children’s emotional cues and try to understand their underlying intentions and desires; they should constantly watch, wait and wonder; in the process, adults can respond to children’s emotions and try to expand their range and understanding of emotions.
3. Two-way communication: Adults encourage children to communicate using all available means, such as gestures, sounds, or words full of affection. They also encourage children to engage in mutual communication by modeling and facilitating back-and-forth interactions.
4. promote problem-solving and thinking skills: Adults help children develop problem-solving skills by providing opportunities for children to confront conflict situations or problems and guiding them through the process of finding solutions. This promotes cognitive development and critical thinking.
5. Floortime is not a specific activity or exercise; At the same time, there are general guidelines and principles; all strategies must be carefully individualized to meet the unique needs and interests of the individual and adapted to real-life situations.
While Floortime can address behavioral challenges and help develop individual skills, it is not solely focused on behavioral compliance or skill acquisition. The primary focus is on promoting emotional connection, social engagement, and overall developmental progress, which is the eventual oal. It should also be understood as a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach that does not exist as a stand-alone treatment but rather involves speech therapy, occupational therapy, and other therapeutic approaches as the child’s needs dictate.
In summary, Floortime is a play-based therapy approach that promotes a child’s social, emotional, and cognitive development through building emotional connections and interactive play. Most importantly, to support a child’s development, we believe in ‘meeting the child where they are’ and using the child’s interests and strengths as a vehicle and the pathway for their growth and development.
DIR Floortime Expert Training Manager
(Ref. Web-Based Radio Show Floortime TM: What it Really Is and What it Isn’t by Stanley I. Greenspan, M.D. September 2, 2004)