INTRODUCTION TO FLOORTIME
While interventions such as Applied
Behavior Analysis (ABA) and the Lovaas
program have proved effective as interventions for Autism Spectrum Disorders, new types of developmental interventions are
emerging in response to criticisms that the rote learning involved
may not always result in generalized learning.
Floortime involves meeting a child at his or her
current developmental level, and building upon a particular set
of strengths. Floortime is child-focused - the parent or therapist
follows the child's lead, with playful positive attention and tuning
in to the child's interests. By entering into a child's world, support
can be given to climb the 'developmental ladder' despite an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
How did Floortime develop?
Beginning in the 1980s Greenspan built upon research
into social-emotional development to create a proprietary intervention
for children with deficits in relating and communicating. This method
is known as Developmental Individual Difference Relationship Model
(DIR Model). Floortime, which is a specific therapeutic technique
also developed by Greenspan, is often confused with the DIR Model.
The basic premise of Floortime is that children learn skills from
the relationships which they have with their caregivers and other
people significant in their lives. It was developed in response
to the needs of the increasing population diagnosed with disorders
on the Autism Spectrum, who were then being either served by behavioral
methods or cognitive skills, and other impairments of development
Six milestones of development
Relationships, according to Greenspan and Wieder,
are essentially developed in playful interactions. Greenspan's theory
of development is that children grow, from birth to 4 years, in
six different milestones to succeed in further learning and development.
The dual ability to take an interest in the sights,
sounds and sensations of the world and to calm oneself down.
The ability to engage in relationships with other
3 Two-Way Communication
The ability to engage in two-way communication
4 Complex Communication
The ability to create complex gestures, to string
together a series of actions into an elaborate and deliberate problem-solving
5 Emotional Ideas
The ability to create ideas.
6 Emotional Thinking
The ability to build bridges between ideas to
make them reality-based and logical.
His focus on individual differences is meditated
through the sensory system, the processing system and the motor
system. His focus on relationships means that the parents work with
the child directly on creating an emotional relationship.
how does Floortime work?
Floortime is based on interactive experiences,
which are child directed, in a low stimulus environment, ranging
from two to five hours a day. Interactive play involves the adult
follows the child's lead, and aims to encourage the child to 'want'
to relate to the outside world. Early intervention is encouraged
as soon as possible as the child is likely to become more withdrawn
and difficult to reach with time.
During the preschool program, DIR/Floortime includes
integration with typically developing peers. Greenspan contends
that interactive play, in which the adult follows the child's lead,
will encourage the child to 'want' to relate to the outside world.
Furthermore, Greenspan (1998) stipulates that the program should
begin as soon as the child is identified as the longer children
are uncommunicative, the more difficult parents find relating to
them and the more the children withdraw. According to Greenspan
(1998), intervention must transform perseveration into interaction.
Once this occurs, he theorizes that the child becomes purposeful,
and can imitate gestures, sounds, and play.
what does the research say?
Greenspan (1998) claimed that "We have worked
with a number of children diagnosed with autism or PDD-NOS between
the ages of 18 and 30 months who, now older, are fully communicative
(using complex sentences adaptively), creative, warm, loving, and
joyful" (p.3). Anecdotal evidence suggests that a number of
parents find Floortime to be an effective intervention.
To date, no independent, peer-reviewed, published
studies of Greenspan's DIR/Floortime's effectiveness for children
with autism are identified (Roberts & Prior 2006) so Floortime
would not currently be regarded as an evidence-based
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Autism and Asperger's syndrome-related articles at http://en.wikipedia.org