What is DIR/Floortime Therapy?
The Developmental, Individual-difference, Relationship-based (DIR)/Floortime model is the formal name for a new, comprehensive, individualized approach to assess and treat children who have developmental delays (including Autism Spectrum Disorder). F ocusing on the building blocks of healthy development, this approach is also referred to as the “Floortime” approach. However, Floortime is actually a strategy within the DIR model that emphasizes the creation of emotionally meaningful learning exchanges that encourage developmental abilities.
The goal of treatment within the DIR model is to build foundations for healthy development rather than to work only on the surface of symptoms and behaviors. Here, children learn to master critical abilities that may have been missed along their developmental track. For example, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has three core/primary problems: (1) establishing closeness, (2) using emerging words or symbols with emotional intent, and (3) exchanging emotional gestures in a continuous way. Secondary symptoms (perseveration, sensory-processing problems, etc.) may also exist. Thus, treatment options are based on particular underlying assumptions. The DIR model is based on the assumption that the core developmental foundations for thinking, relating, and communicating can be favorably influenced by work with children’s emotions and their effects.
The DIR model was developed to tailor to each child and to involve families much more intensively than approaches have in the past. Through the DIR model, cognition, language, and social and emotional skills are learned through relationships that involve emotionally meaningful exchanges. Likewise, the model views children as being individuals who are very different and who vary in their underlying sensory processing and motor capacities. As such, all areas of child development are interconnected and work together beneficially.