D.I.R./ Floortime

              New Play Based Intervention Program offered in Victoria

Dr. Robert Oppenheimer recently relocated to Victoria from Michigan.  He worked for 25 years as a Child Psychologist in the USA and has many years of experience working with children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other issues. 

Robert received training with the " Play Project " which uses a DIR/Floortime affect based developmental model to provide an intensive (15-25 hrs per week) intervention program for ASD children. The DIR model was originally developed by Dr. Stanley Greenspan and you can learn more about his work on the ICDL website below.

                                                           D. I. R . Stands for:

D - Developmental
I - Individualized
R - Relationship Based Therapy

Floortime stands for a play therapy approach that the adults in an ASD child's life can learn to use in order to literally get down on the floor with the child and become an active play partner. Using this approach parents, interventionists and other caregivers can help the child shift to being self motivated and to want to initiate joint play activities. Children in Floortime therapy also start  to seek out more connection and eye contact out of  a sense of shared attention and excitement.

The Play Project was developed by Dr Rick Solomon in Ann Arbor, Michigan as a way to apply the DIR/Floortime approach in an affordable way and is focused on training parents and others to be successful "players" with ASD children. The approach focuses on coaching parents, caregivers and interventionists to engage with the child by following his or her lead/cues and joining the child in "floortime" play.  A key difference/goal in this approach is that the child initiates activities rather than having the adult take the lead.The child also feels "heard" by the adult, who is carefully following the child's cues and responding to his or her interests. Floortime skills are taught to the adult "players" in regular family meetings, every two to four weeks, using a coaching and video review model. Phone and email support is also offered.

Robert provides DIR assessment, training and coaching to assist families in developing intensive Floortime intervention programs with ASD and other children, ages two and older.  Following an assessment of the child's current Functional Developmental Level (FDL), he or she is helped to develop and generalize skills that can be used to communicate and function successfully in different settings. A child often has some capacity to function at multiple FDL levels, but with gaps that can undermine higher functioning; these need to be addressed in order to move forward.  As a child advances through the developmental levels we help him or her gain new skills by using the ones already acquired  as "scaffolding"..

The DIR Six Functional Developmental Levels (FDL)

Self regulation and shared attention  (FDL 1)
Engagement                                      (FDL 2)
Two-way Communication                  (FDL 3)
Complex two-way Communication     (FDL 4)
Shared Meanings & Symbolic Play    (FDL 5)
Emotional Thinking                             (FDL 6)

The long term goals include developing the child's self-regulation, communication, problem solving and emotional and social thinking skills to the point where he or she can interact successfully with other children.
Current DIR research suggests that a child's overall functioning can be affected significantly by several years of intensive DIR intervention. Many children eventually reach level 6 in the FDL scale and are able to participate well in a school setting and move toward functioning in an independent, age appropriate way over time.

Social Thinking groups are a great way to build on the gains made in a DIR program. There are a number of excellent books by Stanley Greenspan on the DIR/Floortime model. "Engaging Autism" and "The Learning Tree: Overcoming Learning Disabilities From the Ground Up" are both good introductions to the approach.

Robert is currently offering a twice monthly professional supervision and training group at Group Perspectives. If there is interest he is considering starting a parent's group too.

Please feel free to contact Robert with any questions or concerns about his work. He can be reached
by email by clicking here: email Robert


More information can be found at these websites -

http://www.playproject.org

http://www.icdl.com

http://www.youtube.com/dirfloortime