See VIDEO BLOG created on October 25, 2016

Yay! After a few weeks of defining what the DIR/Floortime® approach is all about, it’s finally time to put it into practice! Here’s how we started to implement a program for our family. First you need to know your child’s individual profile.

We discussed the individual profile a few weeks ago. How we interpret the world through our senses determines our sense of security in the world and how regulated we are. This in turn effects all of our functional emotional developmental capacities.

In order to help our children developmentally, we need to know what their sensory challenges are, if you will. So let’s figure out how to do that.

Dr. Greenspan gives us such a rich description of regulatory sensory processing issues in children with autism spectrum disorders.

SENSORY PROFILES EXPLAINED HERE

If you haven't yet had a diagnosis, you might wonder "How do I know if my child is on the autism spectrum?" You might want to pause here and look at the new screening tool from Autism Canada.

SCREENING TOOL

Sensory Profile Checklist

Now let’s determine your child’s sensory profile. Visual Supports and Beyond in the UK has a great checklist available. Please look it over and complete it with your child in mind.

GET IT HERE
You should now have a good idea of your child’s individual processing differences in each of the areas of sensory processing. In order for your child to be present and attentive, you can use this profile to modify your child’s environment to support these processing tendencies.

For instance, if your child is hypersensitive to loud noises, you will want to make sure you have a quiet place to do Floortime™. Let’s go through each of the items on the list and give examples of the setting you would want for your child.

* Please note that information on this website is not meant to be taken as professional advice and is for illustrative purposes only. Please consult with a professional sensory integration occupational therapist for a full assessment and for specific recommendations for your child.

It is also very important to note that your child may have aspects of being both hyposensitive and hypersensitive within the same sense and across senses. For instance, our son both craves certain types of tactile input and is overwhelmed by touch in other ways. Your child may not have any sensitivities to a sense. This is why we call this individual differences. Each child is unique and we modify our interactions based on his/her profile.

Balance (Vestibular)

HYPOSENSITIVITY: If you checked off items in the Hyposensitivity column, it is likely that your child needs to move to feel safe and regulated. Having movement incorporated into Floortime™ will help you work on higher developmental capacities. For example, our son spends a lot of time on a swing during play.

HYPERSENSITIVITY: If you checked off items in the Hypersensitivity column, it is likely that your child needs to stay put to feel safe and regulated. Having a comfortable spot for doing Floortime™ will help you work on higher developmental capacities. For example, some children enjoy sitting still on the floor during play.

Body Awareness (Proprioception)

HYPOSENSITIVITY: If you checked off items in the Hyposensitivity column, it is likely that your child needs deep pressure or to do heavy work (pushing heavy items along the floor) to feel safe and regulated. Having such activities incorporated into Floortime™ will help you work on higher developmental capacities. For example, our son spends a lot of time each day pushing big blocks across a gym floor or pulling a wagon with someone in it across the gym. Some children enjoy the feeling of a weighted vest.

HYPERSENSITIVITY: If you checked off items in the Hypersensitivity column, it is likely that your child needs to feel grounded and in control of what happens to his/her body to feel safe and regulated. Having bigger items to play with and/or having a secure place for the child to sit, such as against a big bean bag chair, for doing Floortime™ will help you work on higher developmental capacities.

For example, our son does not like play that involves other people touching him in any way and gets very frustrated if given fine motor tasks, so he will move on to something else. Having big blocks to play with is more appealing and starting with easier gross motor activities is better than riding a bike, for example, which is too difficult for him.
Smell (Olfactory)

HYPOSENSITIVITY: If you checked off items in the Hyposensitivity column, it is likely that strong scents will help your child feel safe and regulated. For example, having certain essential oils that add scent to the play area during Floortime™ may help you work on higher developmental capacities.

HYPERSENSITIVITY: If you checked off items in the Hypersensitivity column, it is likely that you should avoid any strong scents for your child to stay regulated. Having a well-ventilated play area for doing Floortime™, free of strong odors will help you work on higher developmental capacities.

Sight (Vision)

HYPOSENSITIVITY: If you checked off items in the Hyposensitivity column, it is likely that your child is craving visual input to stay regulated. At the same time, rooms with ceiling fans or other visual distractions-including other people moving around-during Floortime™ will make it more difficult to work on higher developmental capacities because your child will be paying attention to the movement. Keep visual distractions to a minimum.

A visit to a developmental optometrist might help determine if your child has sensory integration issues with vision. The office can provide visual exercises that will help your child integrate their peripheral and central vision, for example, or work on depth perception.
HYPERSENSITIVITY: If you checked off items in the Hypersensitivity column, it is likely that your child is best regulated in a dimly lit area with minimal visual distractions. Whereas the hyposensitive child almost craves visual movement, the hypersensitive child is overwhelmed by it.
Hearing (Auditory)

HYPOSENSITIVITY: If you checked off items in the Hyposensitivity column, it is likely that your child craves auditory input and is enticed by interesting noises. For example, during Floortime™ we will easily grab out child’s interest by making fun sound effects and make up games that involve see what noises different objects make. You may also want to speak more slowly, with fewer words, and with greater articulation so your child can have the time to process incoming auditory input.

HYPERSENSITIVITY: If you checked off items in the Hypersensitivity column, it is likely that you should avoid any loud noises for your child to stay regulated. Having a quiet play area for doing Floortime™ will help you work on higher developmental capacities.

I’ve skipped Taste (Gustatory) as we likely wouldn’t be eating during a Floortime™ play session, although certainly you can make Floortime™ a part of meals as well. Similar logic to the other senses follows with Taste.

Touch (Tactile)

HYPOSENSITIVITY: If you checked off items in the Hyposensitivity column, it is likely that your child is craving tactile input to stay regulated. You may want to include sensory toys that have a lot of texture in your Floortime™ sessions. You can include a variety of tactile input in play including playdoh, goopy substances, water, sand, etc. so your child can satisfy this need in order for you to then work on higher developmental capacities.

HYPERSENSITIVITY: If you checked off items in the Hypersensitivity column, it is likely that your child is very sensitive to tactile input and will become easily dysregulated if touched or given uncomfortable textures or substances in play. Whereas the hyposensitive child almost craves visual movement, the hypersensitive child is overwhelmed by it so there needs to be an awareness of not overwhelming the child with tactile input during play in order to work on higher level capacities.

Next week we will continue with how to implement a DIR/Floortime® program for your child. We will start talking about how to determine your child’s functional emotional developmental capacities.

Until next week, here’s to affecting autism!

Sign up for updates

Sign up for our updates and receive a free, digital copy of our publication: "10 Things You Can Do Now to help your child". You can be assured that we will not share your information.

You have signed up!