Floortime is when the adult follows the child’s natural interests and lead in order to mobilize attention, engagement, interaction, communication and thinking. The caregiver follows the child’s emotional interests to engage with her at her functional developmental level and to challenge her to move to the next level gradually attempting to negotiate the 6 DIR assessment levels.
Functional Emotional Developmental Levels
- Regulation and Interest in the world;
- Forming relationships or attachments (engagement);
- Intentional two-way communication;
- Complex problem solving with gestures;
- Emotional idea, representational capacity and elaboration;
- Emotional thinking, building logical bridges between ideas, reasoning.
These session focus on encouraging the child’s initiative and purposeful behavior, deepening engagement, lengthening mutual attention, and developing symbolic capacities through pretend play and conversations. The length of the sessions varies on how long it takes the child to “warm up” and become fully engaged, as well as how long it takes the child to create and expand upon new ideas. It is recommended that the child participate in a minimum of 6 20-minute sessions of Floortime a day.
If the child wants to roll a car, you roll cars with her, offering her a faster car or a competitive race, or if necessary crashing your car into hers-do whatever it takes to create an interaction. If she wants to build blocks, you build with her, adding blocks to her tower, even knocking a block off her tower with an “oops”. The adult’s role is to be a constructive helper and at times gently sabatogue the child’s efforts to draw the child into the action. Do whatever it takes to turn the activity into a two way, two-person interaction with a pleasurable back and forth flow of interaction.
Greenspan, S.I. and Weider, S. (1998) .The Child With Special Needs Encouraging Intellectual and Emotional Growth, Reading, MA, Perseus Books.
Greenspan, S.I. and Weider, S.(2009. Engaging Autism Using the Floortime Approach to help Children Relate, Communicate and Think, DeCapo Press.