How does Floortime work?
Floortime is a type of therapy for children with autism that is based on relationships. The name comes from the fact that the parent gets on the floor with the child to talk to them at their level. Floortime can be used instead of ABA. ABA therapies are sometimes used with this method.
The goal is for adults to help children expand their “circles of communication.” They meet the child where they are in their development and build on what they do well. Therapists and parents get kids involved in the things they like to do. They play with the children. They do what the child says.
How did Floortime start?
Stanley Greenspan, M.D., and Serena Wieder, PhD, both child psychiatrists, came up with Floortime. It’s based on the Developmental Individual-Difference Relationship-based model (DIR). In the 1980s, Dr. Greenspan created this model for children with a wide range of developmental problems.
Greenspan and Weider were both trained in psychology. “The child with Special Needs” and “Engaging Autism” were both widely read.
The idea behind Floortime was easy to understand. But it is completely different from applied behavioural analysis, which has been around for a long time.
Does Floortime work?
Most studies show that Floortime is helpful. Studies show that it can help a lot with building social skills and engagement. Floortime is a good way for parents and kids to get to know each other better.
.One study, for example, found that children improved their “emotional function, communication, and daily living skills”. The children’s mothers also noticed these changes. They also said that “parent-child interactions” had gotten better.
Why is it good to have floor time?
Floortime is meant to help the child reach nine important developmental milestones:
Self-Regulation and Interest in the World.
Engaging and Relating.
Purposeful Two-Way Communication
Complex Communication and Shared Problem Solving
Using Symbols and Creating Emotional Ideas
Logical Thinking and Building Bridges between Ideas
Gray Area Thinking
Reflective Thinking and an Internal Standard of Self
How do you do floor time?
To observe a child well, you need to both listen to and watch the child. Faces, voices, gestures, body language, and what people say (or don’t say) are all important clues. They help you determine how to approach the child.
• distant or unwilling to talk?
• excited to the point of bursting?
• Does the child have a lot of drive?
2. Approach – open circles of communication
Once you know a child‘s mood and style, you can use the right words and actions to talk to them. You can start a conversation with a child by noticing how he or she is feeling. Then you can build on whatever the child is interested in at the time.
3. Follow the child‘s lead
When you follow a child‘s lead, you’re being a helpful playmate. You are the child‘s “assistant,” and you let the child set the mood, direct the story, and make up their own dramas. This helps the child feel better about himself or herself and be more assertive. It makes the child feel like he or she can change the world. As you encourage the child‘s play, it gives the child a sense of being warm, connected, and understood.
4. Extend and expand the play themes
This means saying nice things about what the child is doing without getting in the way. This lets the child say what they want to say and gives the play a clear direction. Next, asking questions to stimulate creative thinking can keep the drama going. This also helps the child clarify the emotional themes involved. Take the case of a child who is driving a car into things. Instead of asking “Why do those cars keep crashing?” You could respond with sympathy, “Those cars have a lot of power and move quickly. Is there somewhere they want to go?”
5. child closes the circle of communication
The child closes the communication loop when he or she adds to what you say and do. This can lead to a lot of back and forth between you and the child as you talk to them. By building on each other’s ideas and actions, the child learns to appreciate and understand the value of two-way communication.
Tips for making floortime work
Get in front of the child and keep going after him or her.
Treat what a child does as intentional and purposeful – give new meanings.
Keep going, act dumb, make a wrong move, do what you’re told, get in the way, etc.
Don’t talk over them or change the subject as long as they’re talking to you. Make sure you get a reply.
Make sure everyone has fun. Don’t use the time to teach or learn something.
Examples of Floortime
When the door opens, their guardian hides behind it and says “Boo!” The child laughs and does it again to get the same reaction.
Or, a kid is putting trucks in order on the floor. A guardian moves one truck back and forth and makes noises like a car engine. The child reaches for the truck, but a caretaker hides it under one of their hands in a playful way. The child takes the truck from the guardian’s hand and puts it back in line.