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Floortime Autism


Floortime is a social approach towards the treatment of autism. This therapy involves engaging an autistic child in exercises interesting to the child. Floortime helps the child to acquire and develop a sense of awareness about self and others. The child’s emotional understanding of self is enhanced by the therapeutic approach of Floortime. Instead of focusing on the desired behavior of the child, Floortime helps the child to understand and determine his or her behavior.

When using a Floortime approach, the therapist or the child’s parents join the child in playtime activities the child enjoys. They follow the child’s prompts and interests and observe the child. Then they get engaged in parallel play, turn-taking and interaction with the child. The Floortime approach is done in five stages.

The first stage is when the therapist or the child’s parents observe the child during playtime and notice the child’s mood and interests. In the second stage, the therapist raises the child’s interest in the preferred activities by talking and gesturing, without disrupting the course of the child’s play activity. Thirdly, the therapist follows the child’s prompt and lead. In the fourth stage, the therapist expresses approval of the child’s play and unobtrusively joins the child in the activities. Next the therapist engages in dramatic and exaggerated gestures and facial expressions to interact with the child. The therapist also helps the child go through daily activities and explain them in ways that the child will understand them and know what the child needs to do. For instance, if the therapist says “my turn” while playing with the child, it may help the child understand the meaning and relevance of having to wait for something. In this way, the relevance of daily activity is taught to the child using play as therapy.

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Gradually the fifth stage will be reached and the child will begin to refer to the therapist and use language and gestures to respond and interact. Floortime involves following the child’s lead and learning about the child’s joys and interests. This helps the therapist to observe how the child deals with sights and sounds, and how the child adapts to the surroundings. The Floortime therapist enters the child’s world and interacts with the child’s nervous system. Floortime is a technique built on a philosophy of interaction, which can be used anywhere and anytime, in schools, homes or even in a store or car.

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Being an RBT for me was extremely fun because where were you going to find a place where you can be completely silly without having to worry what people thought about you? This was the only job that made me feel like I could make a dramatic difference while being myself.

I also liked to be surrounded by people that had the same goals of wanting to help kids and the teamwork made the job much easier and more enjoyable.

Change and progress was the ultimate goal for our kiddos. The early intervention program was seriously only a miracle because I saw changes in the kiddos that from day one, you wouldn’t even recognize who they were.

Changes from being able to utter 3-4 words where they can only make a syllable from when they started, the behavior decreases in which kiddo that used to engage in 30-40 0 self-harm to only half, learning how to wait during games, table work where they use to swipe and drop to the floor if they had to.

My favorite was when the parents would tell us what amazing progress they were making at home. I used to tear up and felt for these parents so much because it was already difficult for them and now, they can trust and rely on ABA and the therapists knowing their goal was ours.

By Emma Rogers, BA, RBT

Mother Child
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