Floortime & DIR



As living organisms, children share basic growth patterns with other living things, such as the young tree in the banner.

Children are often brought for treatment because of acting out behaviors, such as tantrums or noncompliance, or because they are not meeting developmental milestones, such as talking at the expected age. These behaviors are like the branches of the tree, easy to see. However, for the branches to be strong, the whole tree needs to be strong.

DEVELOPMENTAL LEVELS:     The trunk gives the tree both strength and flexibility. Within the trunk are growing layers. These represent the child's core strengths. In the DIR® model, these are referred to as the developmental levels. This is the D in DIR®. These levels build on each other and include: self regulation, attention, back and forth engagement, shared social problem solving, pretending and using symbols and ideas, and logical and emotional thinking.

INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES:     The roots of the tree provide access to water and the nutrients the young tree needs to grow. Just as no two trees have identical root systems, each child is unique. The individual differences are the I in DIR® and include: all the senses, speech and communication skills, and physical and cognitive abilities.

RELATIONSHIPS:     Just as a young tree grows in the soil, a child grows within the family and community. These relationships are the R in DIR®. When the soil is rich in nutrients, the young tree grows more easily. This is very good news for parents. It means that the adults in the child's life can provide a 'nutrient rich' environment to help their child grow as they would wish. These nutrients are positive caregiver characteristics such as: being available, seeing the child's strengths, learning to read the child's cues, setting reasonable expectations and limits, accepting both positive and negative emotions in the child, supporting the child's initiative and perhaps recognizing initiative even when it is subtle, and seeing the child's purpose even in difficult behaviors.

FLOORTIME™:     Floortime™ is a developmental approach that is a nurturing and effective way to address challenges and bring a child’s behavior and emotional and communication skills closer to age level, and with less stress and more joy for both child and parent. Examples of skills include following the child's lead, knowing when to lead yourself, supporting the child's initiative, and ideas to gain and sustain attention.

This quote from the Profectum organization summarizes:  "Floortime™ essentially means joining the child where they are, revisiting previously missed growth opportunities and moving forward."

DIR® and Floortime were developed by Drs. Stanley Greenspan and Serena Wieder.

To learn more, contact the following national organizations.


Profectum: Advancing Development for Individuals and Families with Special Needs

ICDL: Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders