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DIR Floortime – What is the DIR Floortime Model?

Understanding and celebrating the uniqueness of each child led Zier Institute to practice DIR® developed by Drs. Stanley Greenspan and Serena Wieder. (pronounced saying each letter as an initialism: D.I.R.). Zier Institute uses the D.I.R. Floortime method in conjunction with traditional occupational and behavioral approach methods to achieve the most effective outcome for their clients.

The DIR® Model helps build healthy foundations for social, emotional, and intellectual capacities.

  • D describes development from the perspective of the individual, where they are and where they are headed.
  • I refers to the individual differences of how each person understands the world around them, related to sensory reactivity and regulation, visual-spatial and auditory/language processing, purposeful movement, and communication.
  • R represents how relationships nourish our development. As social beings relationships are crucial to human development. DIR encourages the emotional aspect of these relationships to promote development.

Teen girl completed homework from school. Father is proud of successful daughter. Child education concept. Fatherhood.

The DIR® approach is a comprehensive method of improving social, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral delays. DIR involves an assessment of a child’s individual strengths and difficulties in all areas of functioning and sensory processing. We are able to discover what a child needs according to these profiles of strengths and weaknesses. A key component to the DIR Model is the child’s natural emotions and interests. Integrating what he or she is naturally drawn to is essential to empower the different parts of the mind and brain to work together and successively achieve higher levels of social, emotional, and intellectual capacities. This occupational therapy model also lends itself to helping the child discover and understand emotional range and emotional regulation. This relationship based approach helps with early intervention in young children as well as in helping teens and young adults through important life milestones.

A Positive, Relationship Based Approach to Child and Teen Behavioral and Emotional Issues

DIRFloortime® intervention strikes a delicate balance between using a child’s and teen’s natural motivations in free play and planning fun semi-structured tasks to target and develop fundamental social-emotional capacities. This model supports parents in their partnership with their child, meeting on a level playing field, identifying growth opportunities, and forging ahead. At Zier Institute, we also participate in working with caregivers and educators on helping them understand their role in helping a child’s progress. We work to empower them with effective strategies of engagement and relationship.

DIR Floortime Model - Happy parents and kids having fun tickling sitting together on sofa, cheerful couple laughing playing game with little active children son and daughter in living room at home, family funny activity

These capacities and skills for relationship and intimacy, non-verbal and verbal dialogue, pretend play, social cooperation, logical thinking, and emotional reasoning form the basis for mature social and individual functioning. This naturalistic approach utilizing close relationships, natural motivation, and play addresses the critical need for children’s and teen’s brain development: helping information to be processed via the emotional center of the brain, thereby helping the brain to integrate and organize sensory/perceptual inputs and behavioral responses in a much more regulated and adaptive manner. Parents serve the most critical role in using this approach throughout the day with their children. We support parents and caregivers in learning this approach via modeling, guidance, videotape review, telehealth sessions and feedback.

The 2 organizations that support the D.I.R. model are listed below. You can find excellent resources as well on their sites:

Profectum – https://profectum.org/about/dir/
ICDL – https://www.icdl.com/dir

Zier Institute is practicing both in-person and Teletherapy options. We are licensed in Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota for Pediatric and Teen Occupational Therapy. To learn more about Telehealth options, click here. To schedule a 15 minute FREE consultation, click here.


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