Stanley Greenspan, M.D., Serena Wieder, PhD

What is the DIR®/Floortime™ Model?

The Developmental, Individual Difference, Relationship-based (DIR®/Floortime™) Model is a framework that helps clinicians, parents and educators conduct a comprehensive assessment and develop an intervention program tailored to the unique challenges and strengths of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other developmental challenges. The objectives of the DIR®/Floortime™ Model are to build healthy foundations for social, emotional, and intellectual capacities rather than focusing on skills and isolated behaviors.

What is the difference between DIR® and Floortime™ and how are they related?

Central to the DIR®/Floortime™ Model is the role of the child’s natural emotions and interests which has been shown to be essential for learning interactions that enable the different parts of the mind and brain to work together and to build successively higher levels of social, emotional, and intellectual capacities. Floortime™ is a specific technique to both follow the child’s natural emotional interests (lead) and at the same time challenge the child towards greater and greater mastery of the social, emotional and intellectual capacities. With young children these playful interactions may occur on the “floor”, but go on to include conversations and interactions in other places. The DIR®/Floortime™ Model, however, is a comprehensive framework which enables clinicians, parents and educators to construct a program tailored to the child’s unique challenges and strengths. It often includes, in addition to Floortime™, various problem-solving exercises and typically involves a team approach with speech therapy, occupational therapy, educational programs, mental health (developmentalpsychological) intervention and, where appropriate, augmentative and biomedical intervention. The DIR®/Floortime™ Model emphasizes the critical role of parents and other family members because of the importance of their emotional relationships with the child.

Assessment and Intervention Program using the DIR®/Floortime ™ model

As a comprehensive framework, the DIR®/Floortime™ Model typically involves an interdisciplinary team approach including speech and occupational therapy, mental health professionals (e.g. social worker, psychologist, child psychiatrist), educational programs, and, where appropriate, biomedical intervention. After carefully assessing the child’s functional developmental level, individual differences and challenges, as well as relationships with caregivers and peers, the interdisciplinary team will, together with the parents, develop an individualized functional profile that captures each child’s unique developmental features and serves as a basis for creating an individually tailored intervention program.

A comprehensive DIR®/ Floortime™ intervention program includes consideration of the following components, tailored to the individual child’s profile:

  1. Home-based, developmentally appropriate interactions and practices, including
  2. Individual Therapies
  3. Educational program
  4. When indicated other interventions include: Biomedical interventions, Nutrition and diet and Technologies geared to improve processing abilities

How can I find an interdisciplinary team of professionals who have expertise in helping me to start using the DIR®/Floortime™ Model?

The Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders (ICDL) is a non-profit organization founded by Stanley Greenspan, MD, and Serena Wieder PhD. ICDL provides training to a cadre of world class professionals across multiple areas of expertise, which are extending the reach of the DIR® /Floortime™ Model. For additional information please visit our website at www.icdl.com

Recommended publications (available at www.icdl.com)