What is a DIR Floortime Approach?



DIRFloortime® Approach
D (Developmental) I (Individual Differences) R (Relationship-based)
There are 9 Stages of Emotional Development; the first 6 stages are particularly crucial to social emotional development. 

  1. Regulation and Interest in the world:
  • Goal is on facilitating shared attention and regulation.
  • The child needs to learn to interact socially (e.g. emotional responses to sensations such as exaggerated smiles, eye contact and soothing voice).
  • In order to do so they need to focus, be calm and take in information for what they see, hear, touch, taste and the way they move.
  • At this stage it is important to observe the child’s unique sensory preferences (what gets their attention or calms them). An Occupational Therapist that is trained in Sensory Integration will be able to assist your understanding of your child’s sensory system.
  1. Engaging and Relating:
  • Goal is on facilitating engagement and relating to others.
  • The child needs to learn to distinguish between pleasures of interacting with the human world and interest in inanimate objects.
  • At this stage it is important to observe what motivates your child.
  • Following your child’s lead with lead to richer interactions.
  1. Intentionality and 2 way communication:
  • Goal is to facilitate purposeful emotional interactions.
  • Babies learn that emotions can be signals for communications. g. when a baby smiles at mother and he gets a smile back (back and forth emotional signalling/2way communication)
  • At this stage it is important to use animated and exaggerated exchanges. Treat all of the child’s behaviours as purposeful interactions: positive or negative.
  1. Social Problem solving, mood regulation and formation of a sense of self:
  • Problem solving e.g. hand leading to get a toy.
  • Regulating mood and behaviour- ability to signal/express how they feel before the feelings become too intense and uncontrollable.
  • Sense of self- discovery patterns. g. their own feelings or desires, the caregivers’ response and their feeling and actions.
  • Goal is to facilitate shared problem solving e.g. create extra steps in pretend dramas through playful obstruction and try to clarify the child’s intentions e.g. if they point or grunt to a toy, feign confusion and get the wrong toy, this will encourage more elaborate vocalisations.
  1. Creating symbols and using words and ideas:
  • Using words, pictures or symbols meaningfully to communicate something.
  • Goal is to facilitate creating ideas.
  • Challenge the child to express their needs, desires and interests (initiating interactions).
  1. Emotional thinking, logic and sense of reality:
  • Goal is to be able to logically connect symbols in order to understand reality e.g. linking 2 ideas together, ‘If I’m good now, I’ll get a treat later’.
  • At this stage it is important to work ideas or subplots into play scenarios.

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