Floortime therapy

When it comes to autism, understanding the condition and available therapies is essential for parents of children with autism. In this section, we will explore what autism is, common therapies used for autism, and introduce the concept of Floortime therapy.

What is Autism?

Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a developmental disorder that affects communication, social interaction, and behavior. It is typically diagnosed during early childhood and can vary in severity from mild to severe. Children with autism may exhibit difficulties in social interaction, repetitive behaviors, and challenges with verbal and nonverbal communication.

Common Therapies for Autism

Various therapies and interventions are available to support individuals with autism in their development and well-being. Some of the commonly used therapies include Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Social Skills Training. Each therapy focuses on different aspects of the individual's needs and aims to improve their quality of life.

Introducing Floortime Therapy

Floortime therapy, also known as the Developmental Individual-Difference Relationship-Based (DIR) model, is a play-based therapy approach designed to promote social-emotional development in children with autism. Developed by Dr. Stanley Greenspan, Floortime therapy emphasizes engaging with the child at their developmental level and following their lead in play.

By joining the child on the floor, the therapist or parent enters their world and encourages interaction, communication, and shared attention through play. Floortime therapy aims to strengthen the child's emotional connections, problem-solving abilities, and social engagement skills.

Floortime therapy recognizes the importance of the parent's role in the child's development. Parents are encouraged to actively participate in therapy sessions and implement Floortime strategies at home. The therapy focuses on building a strong parent-child relationship and creating a nurturing environment that supports the child's growth and development.

Understanding autism and the available therapies, including Floortime therapy, can empower parents to make informed decisions about their child's intervention. Stay tuned as we delve deeper into the basics of Floortime therapy and explore its benefits for children with autism.

The Basics of Floortime Therapy

Floortime therapy is a play-based intervention that aims to promote the development of children with autism. This section will cover the origins and principles of floortime therapy, how it works, and the role of the parent in this therapeutic approach.

Origins and Principles of Floortime Therapy

Floortime therapy was developed by Dr. Stanley Greenspan and Dr. Serena Wieder as a part of the Developmental, Individual-Difference, Relationship-Based (DIR) model. This model emphasizes the importance of building strong emotional connections and relationships with children on the autism spectrum.

The key principles of floortime therapy include:

  • Engagement: The therapist actively engages with the child, following their lead and interests to create a meaningful connection.
  • Individualization: Therapy sessions are tailored to the unique needs and strengths of each child, focusing on their specific developmental goals.
  • Emotional awareness: Floortime therapy aims to develop emotional intelligence and understanding, helping children recognize and regulate their emotions.
  • Relationship building: The therapist works on building a secure and trusting relationship with the child and encourages active participation from parents and caregivers.

How Floortime Therapy Works?

Floortime therapy sessions typically take place on the floor, where the child feels most comfortable and engaged. The therapist joins the child in their play, following their interests and expanding on their ideas. This approach encourages the child to take the lead and actively participate in the therapy process.

During the sessions, the therapist uses various techniques and strategies to promote the child's development. These may include:

  • Reflective commenting: The therapist describes the child's actions, emotions, and intentions, helping them develop self-awareness and understanding.
  • Obstacle and challenge: The therapist introduces obstacles or challenges during play to encourage problem-solving skills and cognitive development.
  • Sensory integration: The therapist incorporates sensory activities that address the child's sensory needs, helping them regulate and process sensory information.

Floortime therapy is a dynamic and interactive process that adapts to the child's individual progress and goals. It encourages the child to develop their communication, social, and emotional skills through play-based interactions.

The Role of the Parent in Floortime Therapy

Parents play a crucial role in floortime therapy. They are actively involved in the therapy process and are encouraged to participate in the sessions with their child. This involvement helps strengthen the parent-child relationship and extends the benefits of therapy beyond the therapy room.

Parents are encouraged to observe and learn from the therapist's interactions with their child during therapy sessions. They can then apply these strategies and techniques in their daily interactions with their child. This helps create a supportive environment at home that promotes continued growth and development.

Furthermore, parents are considered the child's primary play partners and advocates. They are empowered to incorporate floortime principles and techniques into their daily routines and playtime with their child. This allows for consistent and meaningful interactions that support the child's progress.

By actively participating in the therapy process, parents become an integral part of their child's development and continue to foster their growth beyond therapy sessions.

Benefits of Floortime Therapy

Floortime therapy, a play-based intervention for children with autism, offers a range of benefits that support their overall development and well-being. By engaging in this interactive approach, children can experience enhancements in their communication skills, emotional and social development, as well as cognitive and problem-solving abilities.

Enhancing Communication Skills

One of the primary goals of floortime therapy is to improve communication skills in children with autism. Through interactive play sessions guided by a trained therapist or parent, children are encouraged to engage in meaningful interactions and express themselves. This therapy focuses on building a strong foundation for communication by following the child's lead, using their interests to create engaging and motivating experiences.

By actively participating in floortime activities, children have opportunities to practice language and communication skills, such as turn-taking, initiating and responding to interactions, and expanding their vocabulary. These experiences can help children with autism develop their expressive and receptive language abilities, leading to improved communication both at home and in social settings.

Promoting Emotional and Social Development

Floortime therapy places a significant emphasis on promoting emotional and social development in children with autism. By engaging in play-based interactions, children have the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of their own emotions and those of others. Through shared experiences and guided interactions, they learn to recognize and express their feelings, as well as understand the emotions of their play partner.

This therapy also encourages social engagement and the development of social skills. By engaging in pretend play scenarios, children can practice important social skills such as turn-taking, sharing, and joint attention. These experiences can help them develop a greater sense of empathy, perspective-taking, and social reciprocity, ultimately leading to more meaningful and fulfilling social interactions.

Improving Cognitive and Problem-Solving Abilities

Floortime therapy is not only beneficial for communication and social development but also for cognitive and problem-solving abilities. Through engaging and challenging play activities, children are provided with opportunities to problem-solve, think critically, and make decisions. These activities stimulate cognitive processes such as memory, attention, and executive functioning.

The interactive nature of floortime therapy encourages children to think flexibly, adapt to new situations, and explore creative solutions. By engaging in play-based problem-solving, children with autism can develop their ability to plan, organize, and sequence tasks. These cognitive skills can have a positive impact on their overall learning and academic performance.

Incorporating floortime therapy into the lives of children with autism can bring about significant improvements in their communication skills, emotional and social development, as well as cognitive and problem-solving abilities. By providing a supportive and engaging environment, parents and therapists can help children with autism reach their full potential.

Getting Started with Floortime Therapy

When considering Floortime therapy for your child with autism, there are key steps to take to ensure a successful start. This section will guide you through finding a qualified Floortime therapist, creating a supportive environment at home, and incorporating Floortime into your daily routines.

Finding a Qualified Floortime Therapist

Finding a qualified Floortime therapist is crucial to the success of the therapy. Look for therapists who have experience and training in Floortime intervention. These professionals should have a deep understanding of autism and be skilled in implementing Floortime techniques.

To find a qualified Floortime therapist, consider the following steps:

  • Research: Start by researching local therapists or therapy centers that specialize in autism treatment. Look for those that specifically mention Floortime therapy as one of their interventions.
  • Credentials and Certifications: Check if the therapist has certifications or credentials in Floortime therapy. Although certification is not mandatory, it indicates that the therapist has undergone formal training in this approach.
  • Experience: Inquire about the therapist's experience working with children on the autism spectrum. Ask for references or testimonials from other parents who have utilized their services.
  • Collaboration: Consider therapists who are willing to work collaboratively with you as a parent. Floortime therapy involves active involvement from parents, so finding a therapist who values and encourages your participation is important.

Remember, finding the right therapist may take time and effort, but it is a crucial step in ensuring the effectiveness of Floortime therapy for your child.

Creating a Supportive Environment at Home

A supportive environment at home can greatly enhance the effectiveness of Floortime therapy. Here are some tips to create such an environment:

  • Designated Play Area: Set up a designated play area at home where you can engage in Floortime activities with your child. Make sure the area is comfortable, safe, and free from distractions. Consider using soft mats or cushions to create a cozy space.
  • Structured Schedule: Establish a structured daily routine that incorporates dedicated time for Floortime activities. Consistency and predictability can help your child feel secure and engaged.
  • Visual Supports: Utilize visual supports, such as visual schedules and social stories, to help your child understand and anticipate the activities involved in Floortime therapy. Visual supports can provide a clear and organized representation of the routine.
  • Communication Tools: Use visual aids, such as picture cards or communication boards, to support communication during Floortime sessions. These tools can assist your child in expressing their needs, wants, and feelings.

Incorporating Floortime into Daily Routines

Integrating Floortime into your daily routines can make it a natural part of your child's day. Here are some strategies to incorporate Floortime into your daily routines:

  • Mealtime: Use mealtime as an opportunity to engage in Floortime activities. Encourage your child to participate in food preparation or setting the table, promoting interaction and communication.
  • Bath Time: Turn bath time into a Floortime activity by incorporating play, sensory experiences, and opportunities for communication. Use bath toys, sing songs, or engage in water play to create a playful and interactive environment.
  • Bedtime: Make bedtime a special time for Floortime interactions. Read books together, engage in calming activities, and have conversations to foster emotional connection and communication.

By finding a qualified Floortime therapist, creating a supportive environment at home, and incorporating Floortime into daily routines, you can maximize the benefits of Floortime therapy for your child with autism. Remember, every child is unique, so adapt and personalize these strategies to suit your child's specific needs and interests.

FAQs about Floortime Therapy

Parents of children with autism often have questions about the effectiveness and implementation of Floortime therapy. Here are some common FAQs about Floortime therapy and their answers:

Is Floortime Therapy Effective for All Children with Autism?

Floortime therapy is highly individualized and can be effective for many children with autism. However, the effectiveness of the therapy may vary depending on the child's specific needs and developmental stage. Floortime therapy focuses on promoting emotional and social development, enhancing communication skills, and improving cognitive abilities. It encourages engagement and interaction between the child and their caregiver in a play-based setting. While many children benefit from Floortime therapy, it is important to consult with a qualified therapist to determine if it is suitable for your child's unique needs.

How Long Does Floortime Therapy Take to Show Results?

The duration for seeing results from Floortime therapy can vary from child to child. It is important to remember that Floortime therapy is a process that requires time, consistency, and patience. Some children may show progress within a few weeks or months, while others may require longer periods to demonstrate noticeable improvements. The key is to focus on the child's individual progress rather than comparing their development to others. Regular communication with the therapist and open dialogue about goals and expectations can help set realistic timelines for progress.

Can Floortime Therapy Be Combined with Other Therapies?

Yes, Floortime therapy can be combined with other therapies and interventions. In fact, many families choose to integrate Floortime therapy with other evidence-based therapies such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) or speech therapy. The combination of different therapies can provide a comprehensive and holistic approach to addressing the various needs of children with autism. It is important to discuss with the therapists involved to ensure that the different therapies are coordinated and complement each other effectively. Collaborative efforts among therapists and caregivers can create a cohesive treatment plan tailored to the child's specific requirements.

By understanding the effectiveness and potential combination of Floortime therapy with other interventions, parents can make informed decisions regarding their child's therapy journey. Remember to consult with qualified professionals to determine the most appropriate therapeutic approaches for your child's unique needs.

Is there any scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of Floortime therapy?

Yes, there is scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of Floortime therapy. Studies have shown that it can help improve social communication skills and reduce symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorder.


In conclusion, Floortime therapy is a fun and interactive approach to help children with autism develop social, emotional, and cognitive skills. It is a collaborative process between the therapist, child, and family that focuses on the child's strengths and interests. If you are looking for a therapy that is engaging and effective, Floortime therapy may be the perfect choice for your child.