Aug 6, 2013
Written by Sara Chapman, MA and Chrissy D’Agostino, MA
Children learn dynamically. How we relate to others and to our environments becomes the basis for how we learn about the world and ourselves. Through these various experiences, children make connections about the world and their place within it. In the context of a group, many novel experiences and situations arise that allow a child to learn from others and to expand social understanding and thinking. These experiences can then be applied to the larger world.
The DIR®/Floortime Model is developmental and relationship-based approach that provides a framework for assessment and intervention and can be used not only within individual programs, but also to understand children within the context of a group setting. The model was developed by Drs. Stanley Greenspan and Serena Wieder, and enables parents and professionals to design comprehensive programs tailored to a child’s unique differences, strengths, and challenges. The goal of DIR®/Floortime is to help every child build healthy foundations for social, emotional and intellectual development.
D-I-R: How a child’s Developmental profile, Individual Differences, and Relationships, come together to inform and enrich intervention.
We look at each child’s individual developmental capacities to better understand:
In addition to understanding each child’s unique developmental progression, we also look at the overall development of the group. It is important to understand that what children can do one-on-one often decreases in the context of a group as there is more information to process and a greater variety of situations to negotiate.
Some questions we might consider when developing a plan for a group session include:
Each child takes in, regulates, processes, and responds to sensory information, such as sights, sounds, taste, smells, touch, and movement, differently. In order to understand how children relate to one another and the environment, we first have to understand how each child processes information. In a group, we also learn how children’s specific individual differences may be compatible or interfere with interactions, which provides opportunities for learning and coping that replicate real world experiences. For example, a child who is sensitive to sound may participate in a group with a child who tends to be louder and more active by nature. This creates opportunities to increase awareness of others, learn ways to cope with experiences that often may be disruptive or dysregulating to a child, and encourages children to learn to alter their actions based on the responses of others. The world is not always in our control, so it is important that children not only learn to relate to those that share common interests and ways of processing information, but also learn to cope in situations and within relationships/interactions that pose challenges.
Parents are a child’s first connection to the world, but children eventually make connections with adults other than parents and immediate caregivers. As children grow and develop, interest in other children develops too, and this becomes the basis for first friendships and the development of individuality and a strong sense of self. A supportive group experience provides opportunities for children to learn about and from others, in a supportive and nurturing environment, and to learn how to relate to other children through facilitated interactions.
Depending on the needs of the child, skills targeted might include:
Effective Strategies to Promote Peer Interactions and Awareness: