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Floortime play and the benefits for children with autism and Sensory Processing Disorders

Example of helping a child engage
Example of helping a child engage
Vicky Pitner

Understanding and treating children with autism and Sensory Processing Disorders are challenging due to the unique characteristics of each individual child. But the DIR (Developmental, Individual Differences. Relationship Based) /Floortime Model http://www.floortime.orgoffers an approach to focus on helping children relate to others, communicate, (verbally and non-verbally) and thinking, rather than on symptoms alone.

With one in 110 children diagnosed with autism, according to the December 19, 2009 report by the Centers for Disease Control, and no known cause, early intervention can determine how well the child develops. The Floortime Model, developed by Stanley Greenspan, M.D. and Serene Wieder, PHD, offers opportunities for children to work through six basic developmental levels, which are the foundation of learning and development.

The six developmental milestones include:

  1. Shared attention and regulation. Taking in information and responding to the world.
  2. Engagement and relating. Developing intimate and trusting relationships.
  3. Purposeful emotional interaction.  Two-way communicating and gesturing.
  4. Social problem solving. Understanding how to respond to others during play or in social settings.
  5. Creating ideas. From block stacking to imaginary play, the child creates ideas to explore feelings.
  6. Connecting ideas together and thinking logically. The higher order thinking when children have logical and original thoughts.

Children without challenges master the levels naturally and easily. But children with autism or Sensory Processing Disorder needs help developing social and emotional skills, language, and motor skills. Floortime helps master the milestones and can be done in the home, car, during bath time, at dinner, or any opportunity that supports emotional and intellectual growth. These "circles of communicating" or purposeful and continuous back and forth interaction between the child and the therapist or parent, is the foundation to the DIR/Floortime treatment approach. For more information on learning Floortime, visit


  • Nick 5 years ago

    This is a great article! For affordable help with developing social and emotional, language, and motor skills, check out the hundreds of lesson videos at rethink autism . com