Review – Floortime Strategies to Promote Development in Children and Teens

Floortime Strategies to Promote Development in Children and Teens: A User’s Guide to the DIR® Model – Andrea Davis, Lahela Isaacson, and Michelle Harwell

Floortime Strategies

There are lots of approachs and interventions in the field of autism – some controversial, some useful, some completely useless, some dangerous. What tends to be common in all of them though – even the good ones – is that the information about them is difficult to get hold of unless you pay to go on (often incredibly) expensive courses. If I type “Floortime” into Amazon UK there are two books readily available on the subject. I have been to a number of forums where people (autistic adults included) have said to parents “Do Floortime, it’s really good”, but yet all the big information on it is hidden away in courses that many parents just aren’t going to be able to afford.

I’ll stop on that rant because I think most people are aware now of the fact that anything that might help children with special needs (especially with autism being a big focus right now) automatically has a big price tag attached to it. So – is this book any good?

It starts with a brief introduction to Floortime and the history of the intervention and then moves straight into the main principles; it discusses how the focus is on being part of the child’s world and interests, and how these can be used to scaffold their growth. There is then two sections referred to as “Core Methods” – which are the basic strategies of communicating, building relationships, and understand and addressing differences in processing, sensory needs, and learning style.

Children and teens have unique, neurologically determined ways of taking in, managing, and interacting with the stimuli coming from the world around them. They have unique ways of processing sensations, meaning adapting to and making sense of sight; sound; touch; taste; gravity; information from skin, joints, and limbs; body positioning; motion; temperature; and emotions.

Then the book moves onto the bulk of the content – the different Capacities identified within the Floortime Strategy. These Capacities are all frame as things for the non-autistic person to work on, which makes a pleasant change. It’s all about different approaches and strategies to use to build on current relationships between the autistic person and someone else.

Your job is not so much to solve or fix the cause of the upset, but to get through the feelings together. You are working together with your child or teen to arrive at a calmer state, to stay connected through the upset, and to learn more ways for achieving calm.

I like how each section gives concrete examples for different ages – which means that regardless of the expressive and receptive language of the individual, different strategies can be used. The suggestions include things like calming choices, which are so frequently forgotten about. The book is also conscious about offering suggestions for verbal and non-verbal individuals, and for those with a lot of sensory needs.

Your preteen craves a lot of sensory input. Rather than resist or discourage this need, you be the one to regularly invite and introduce sensory activities that meet a felt need and also require you to play a part, such as a push on the swing, a swim, or a spin around in circles on a chair.

This book is incredibly detailed, and whilst it does recommend the involvement of a professional trained in Floortime, there is more than enough information here for parents and professionals to try different strategies at home and the examples given throughout really help to clarify the Capacities. This is not a book to be read cover to cover in one go (which is what I had to do to review it), but one to work through or to take bits out of to build relationships with the people in your life. Whilst the focus is on relationships with children and teens with developmental disorders – a lot of it can be generalised or adapted for use with other people as well.

Worth reading?

Yes – easy to say when there are really only two books on Floortime, but this has a lot of information and if very easy to follow.

Value for money?

It comes it at just under £28 currently on Amazon UK – which makes it a bit pricey for a book. However, with the sheer amount of information and guidance within this book, and considering how much training on Floortime costs, I am inclined to say yes – it is value for money.

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