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The Benefits of Floortime Therapy for Your Child and How to Do Autism Therapy at Home

Updated: Sep 10, 2023


A toddler playing with toys on the floor

As a parent or caregiver of a child with autism, you may be wondering what options are available for therapy and how you can help your child at home. There are several therapy options for children with autism, including occupational therapy, speech therapy, and behavioral therapy, commonly known as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Another type of therapy that has gained popularity in recent years is Floortime therapy. In this article, we'll dive into what Floortime therapy is, the benefits it can provide for children with autism, and how to successfully do autism therapy at home.


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Understanding Autism and Therapy for Autism


Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a developmental disorder that affects communication, social skills, and behavior. Children with autism may struggle to communicate their needs and feelings, have difficulty making eye contact, and struggle with social interactions. There is no cure for autism, but therapy can help children with autism develop new skills and improve their quality of life.


There are several types of therapy available for children with autism, including occupational therapy, speech therapy, and behavioral therapy. Occupational therapy focuses on developing fine motor skills, sensory integration, and self-care skills. Speech therapy focuses on improving communication skills, such as speech, language, and social communication. Behavioral therapy focuses on improving behavior, such as reducing problem behaviors and increasing communication and social skills.


What is Floortime Therapy?


Floortime therapy, also known as DIR/Floortime was developed by Dr. Stanley Greenspan and is a type of play therapy that focuses on promoting emotional and cognitive development in children with autism. Floortime therapy involves getting down on the child's level and engaging in play activities that the child enjoys. The therapist follows the child's lead and helps the child expand their play skills, communication skills, and social interaction skills.


Floortime therapy is based on the Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationship-based (DIR) model. The DIR model focuses on understanding the child's individual differences and developmental level, building a strong relationship between the child and therapist, and promoting emotional and cognitive development.


Benefits of Floortime Therapy for Children with Autism


Floortime therapy can provide several benefits for children with autism, including:


1. Improved Social Interaction Skills


Floortime therapy focuses on improving social interaction skills, such as eye contact, turn-taking, and engaging in reciprocal play. By following the child's lead and engaging in play activities, the therapist can help the child develop the skills needed for successful social interactions.


2. Improved Communication Skills

Floortime therapy can also improve communication skills, such as verbal and nonverbal communication. By following the child's lead and engaging in play activities, the therapist can help the child develop new ways to communicate their needs and feelings.


3. Improved Emotional Regulation


Floortime therapy can also help children with autism develop better emotional regulation skills. By promoting emotional and cognitive development, the child can learn to regulate their emotions and respond appropriately to different situations.


4. Improved Play Skills


Floortime therapy focuses on play-based activities, which can help children with autism develop new play skills and expand their interests.


A woman working on a learning activity with a boy

How to Prepare for Floortime Therapy at Home


If you are interested in doing Floortime therapy at home with your child, there are several things you can do to prepare. Here are some tips for preparing for Floortime therapy at home:


1. Create a Safe and Engaging Environment


Create a safe and engaging environment for your child to play in. Remove any distractions or hazards and provide toys and activities that your child enjoys.


2. Establish a Routine


Establish a routine for Floortime therapy sessions. Choose a time when your child is typically calm and engaged, and try to stick to the same time each day.


3. Set Goals


Set goals for each Floortime therapy session. Choose one or two goals to work on during each session, such as improving eye contact or expanding play skills.


Tips for Successful Floortime Therapy Sessions at Home


Here are some tips for making your Floortime therapy sessions at home successful:


1. Follow Your Child's Lead


Follow your child's lead during Floortime therapy sessions. Let your child choose the activity and follow their lead in how they engage with the activity.


2. Be Engaging and Playful


Be engaging and playful during Floortime therapy sessions. Use a playful tone of voice and engage in silly and fun activities with your child.


3. Provide Positive Reinforcement


Provide positive reinforcement for your child's efforts during Floortime therapy sessions. Use praise and rewards to encourage your child's progress and engagement.


Other Traditional Therapy Options for Autism


While Floortime therapy can be a great option for children with autism, it's important to additionally consider other therapy options available to you and your child, including:


1. Occupational Therapy


Occupational therapy focuses on developing fine motor skills, sensory integration, and self-care skills.


2. Speech Therapy


Speech therapy focuses on improving communication skills, such as speech, language, and social communication.


3. Behavioral Therapy


Behavioral therapy focuses on improving behavior, such as reducing problem behaviors and increasing communication and social skills.


A man and a little boy playing with building blocks on the floor

How to Incorporate Therapy into Daily Routines


Incorporating therapy into daily routines can help children with autism develop new skills and improve their quality of life. Here are some tips for incorporating therapy into daily routines:


1. Use Naturalistic Teaching Strategies


Use naturalistic teaching strategies, such as modeling and prompting, during daily routines to help reinforce therapy goals.


2. Make Therapy Fun and Engaging


Make therapy fun and engaging by incorporating therapy goals into play-based activities.


3. Provide Positive Reinforcement


Provide positive reinforcement for your child's efforts during therapy activities. Use praise and rewards to encourage your child's progress and engagement.


Overcoming Challenges in Home-Based Therapy


Home-based therapy can present its own unique challenges, such as distractions, lack of structure, and difficulty staying engaged. Here are some tips for overcoming these challenges:


1. Create a Structured Environment


Create a structured environment for therapy sessions to help your child stay engaged and focused.


2. Minimize Distractions


Minimize distractions during therapy sessions by turning off electronics and removing any unnecessary toys or activities.


3. Use Positive Reinforcement


Use positive reinforcement to keep your child engaged and motivated during therapy sessions.



Conclusion: Empowering Your Child with Autism through Home-Based Therapy


Floortime therapy can be a great option for children with autism, and doing autism therapy at home is an important way to help your child develop new skills and improve their quality of life.


For more information and resources on Floortime Therapy, visit https://www.icdl.com/floortime and see Dr. Greenspan's original book The Child with Special Needs to learn how his approach can benefit children with autism and other special needs.


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All blog content shared through HealthSmart! Kids is for informational purposes only and not to be construed as medical advice. Always talk with your qualified health care provider for managing your health care needs.

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