I introduced what DIR Floor Time was. Today, I hope to suggest some strategies that are used in Floor Time. I must emphasize that you get training in this technique so you can ideally carry out the techniques. This model is based on a multi-discipline model with speech and language pathologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and educators. They all work together to evaluate the needs of the child.

The basic premise is you play with the children on the floor. The floor is seen as a grounding tool. These children are comfortable playing on the floor. Your job is to give them the best play date you can by starting where the child is. You always start where the child is. Dr. Esther Hess has some simple suggestions to prepare for a good play date.

  • Identify real-life experiences your child knows and enjoys and have toys and props available to play out these experiences.
  • Respond to your child's desires through pretend play.
  • Encourage role playing with dress-up props, use puppets, etc.
  • Use specific set of figures / dolls to represent family members.
  • Give symbolic meaning to objects as you play.
  • Substitute one object for another when props are needed.
  • As you play. Help your child to elaborate on his intentions. You will do this by when he tries to do something else; you suggest what he could do instead and when he does it you, praise him for coming up with the new of solving the problem. (It does not matter if it was your idea.)
  • Make use of break downs.
  • Get involved in the drama.
  • Insert obstacles in the play.
  • Use symbolic figures your child knows and loves, such as Disney or Super Heroes, to generate symbolic play.
  • Use play to help your child understand and master ideas / themes which may have scared him.
  • Let your child be the director.
  • Focus on process as you play: identify the beginning, middle, and end.
  • As you play, match your tone of voice to the situation.
  • Reflect the ideas and feelings in the story while playing and later on as you would with other real life experiences.

These are the tenants that Dr. Esther Hess recommends. Many Autism Spectrum disordered children love trains. She recommends not having too many trains as that is all the child focuses on. You want to create a play experience where the child has to problem solve something in order to move forward, even if you are suggesting the solution, you still give it praise as make it his solution. He may flap his arms in agitation, but this should not be seen as abnormal. He may be over stimulated and know not what to do. In this scenario, you try to use symbolic play to help him solve his problem.

Dr. Esther Hess has a trampoline in her room and this is used to teach the children to ground themselves when they feel like they are out of control. It grounds them and brings them back to homeostasis. Dr. Esther Hess encourages the parents to use these techniques and have them play with their children her presence. She guides them gently. She requires the parents to make a commitment and play with their children three times a day for six days out of the week. She involves other family members, ie siblings and will go to the home and watch them carry out the techniques.

This is just an overview and does not replace training in this technique. There are two centers that do this type of therapy-one in California and one in New Jersey. This is a complicated model and not one to take it lightly. If interested find out more on Dr. Esther Hess' website: http://www.Drhessautism.com .