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Learning Approaches - DIR (Developmental, Individual-Difference, Relationship-Based)/Floortime

An educational model developed by child psychiatrist Stanley Greenspan, The DIR (Developmental, Individual-Difference, Relationship-Based)/Floortime approach provides a comprehensive framework for understanding and treating children challenged by autism spectrum and related disorders. It focuses on helping children master the building blocks of relating, communicating and thinking, rather than on symptoms alone. Floortime is much like play therapy in that it builds an increasingly larger circle of interaction between a child and an adult in a developmentally-based sequence. Greenspan has described six stages of emotional development that children meet to develop a foundation for more advanced learning - a developmental ladder that must be climbed one rung at a time. Children with ASD may have trouble with this developmental ladder for a number of reasons, such as over-and under-reacting to senses, difficulty processing information, or difficulty in getting their body to do what they want.

Through the use of DIR/Floortime, parents and educators can help the child move up the developmental ladder by following the child's lead and building on what the child does to encourage more interactions. The approach does not treat the child with autism in separate pieces for speech development or motor development, but rather addresses the emotional development, in contrast to other approaches that tend to focus on cognitive development. It is frequently used for a child's daily playtime in conjunction with other methods such as ABA.


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Jeff, Age 35