July 26, 2021

Just a reminder about our parent support meeting:

  • Everything said is confidential and we ask that there are no recordings;
  • This group is to share with and support fellow caregivers;
  • Starting in 2021, these sessions are for caregivers only, but we will have a guest DIR Expert Training Leader with us the first Monday of each month to support us if anyone has questions or would like this additional support;
  • This is not a clinical treatment program. This is a parent-led support service. ICDL strongly encourages parents to also obtain professional clinical support from a DIRFloortime provider. You can search for providers HERE or access the Home Program.
  • Feel free to send feedback, suggestions, etc. to me anytime

A parent asked about Geminii for speech and language. I don’t know much about it although I’ve heard of it. I reminded them that a child doesn’t magically ‘speak’ unless they are developmentally ready and that there are precursors to verbal speech:

I encouraged them to re-listen/watch the podcasts with Joleen Fernald on this topic:

The next question ended up being our topic du jour. A parent is struggling with the goals of their child’s preschool and their own values and ideas about how their child should be treated. The child was just assessed and the psychologist pointed out all the deficits the child has (according to their neurotypical assessments) and the school is focusing on behaviour rather than looking at the child’s Development, Individual differences, and ignoring the power of the Relationship to make the child feel a sense of safety.

Another parent offered, “Whenever we make decisions out of fear, it’s usually the wrong decision.” Two other parents brought up their similar situations, including a preschool denying services when the parent said they didn’t want their child in the behavioural intervention classroom (because their child has no problem behaviour and they simply want their child to experience being a child with the other kids in a play setting). Due to the child’s diagnosis, they refused. Apparently this is illegal, she was told by a local advocate and is in the process of communicating with the school to view the classroom.

We discussed the struggle and burden that this situation entails for so many of us. We are always fighting for our children’s basic rights. We talked about whether we would trust our child at a place like this, at all, let alone if we have to ‘force’ them to take our children, or treat our children in ways that we demand. What happens when we’re not watching?

I mentioned reviewing this advocate’s website and their twitter feed about why people are wrong when they treat our children this way.

We discussed how if you choose to fight, you have to make your request and if you don’t get what you want, go above their head. If you have to, contact the Director of Equality and Education in your system. You can also get an advocacy rep to attend your child’s meetings with you:

You can get a doctor to say that your child needs a bouncy chair, or a break every 30 min. However, some states won’t take doctor’s orders! You also may just have to rewording things to get it approved. For instance, calling your child’s Floortime approach a ‘behaviour intervention plan’ as long as their guidelines are met. They may not believe in sensory integration, but might approve a medical term like ‘hypotonic’.

Another parent informed us that the Keeping Our Kids Safe At School Act is in the Senate now and is about ending seclusion and restraint in schools. There’s also a hashtag on twitter #StopTheShock protesting the overturning of the ruling to make shocking kids in a school in Boston illegal.

We ended today with a reminder that our kids are amazing. We know their strengths. We went around and each said our child’s strengths. We stressed that the most important thing is that our children are happy and feel LOVED and ACCEPTED and that whatever we do, if the place we leave them at for their care or schooling doesn’t show us that they love them, we might want to rethink it if it’s in our means to do so. 

A reminder that next week we meet on Friday, one hour earlier.

Here are the usual resources to check out:

If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me!

July 19, 2021

Just a reminder about our parent support meeting:

  • Everything said is confidential and we ask that there are no recordings;
  • This group is to share with and support fellow caregivers;
  • Starting in 2021, these sessions are for caregivers only, but we will have a guest DIR Expert Training Leader with us the first Monday of each month to support us if anyone has questions or would like this additional support;
  • This is not a clinical treatment program. This is a parent-led support service. ICDL strongly encourages parents to also obtain professional clinical support from a DIRFloortime provider. You can search for providers HERE or access the Home Program.
  • Feel free to send feedback, suggestions, etc. to me anytime

We had a few first-time parents today who both stated they were not happy with ABA at all–especially the withholding while kids cried–and sought out Floortime. One said while ABA might be helpful for skills like learning to ride a bike, they wanted Floortime for the emotional component. The other parent said that doing ABA made things much worse for their child.

A parent has had an issue with a young male child suddenly starting to grab breasts and buttocks and wondered what to do, and talked about the child’s kicking during diaper changes when younger. How do we redirect such behaviours? We discussed a few suggestions. One parent said the same thing happened with them during diaper changes so they just changed from the side instead of from the front and it helped.

I suggested you could make a game of putting something for the child to kick against and use affect saying, “Kick! Kick! Kick!” and then “Stop!” and then repeat to see if the child can be engaged to pause the kicks. For the grabbing, perhaps having some squeeze toys to redirect to or quickly redirecting to high fives could help, again using affect during the redirect.

Another parent said that their child grabs hair when excited and especially during feeding in high chair. The parent wears a light sun hat now and it has stopped. Another parent’s child would come and bash the keyboard while the parent was working at the computer. What worked was stopping and giving the child full attention and saying, “Do you want some attention?” and then giving the child attention and stating that we don’t touch the keyboard. It has worked so far because the child got what they wanted: the attention of the parent!

I suggested a few podcasts around what we can think about regarding these scenarios:

A parent is struggling with how to convince school they want Floortime for their child all day and hired a lawyer to show why to do this and wondered if we had resources. They believe the school completely misses the sensory portion

A parent asked for information about the DIR Home Program  and how soon it begins once you sign up. A few parents have started it with rave reviews and one is waiting to start.

A parent’s child is in a summer camp and finally starting to turn-take! Yay! The age range of the kids is wide, though. We referred to Teresa’s appearance in my latest podcast and how the DIR Summer Camps thrive with children of all ages together cheering each other on, and speaking for those who are non speaking, really forming a group experience that is wonderful.

Finally, I pointed out 2 new courses with no prerequisites being offered by ICDL that registration is now open for:

A reminder that you can see the schedule for the rest of the summer under the EVENTS menu above.

Here are the usual resources to check out:

If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me!

July 12, 2021

Just a reminder about our parent support meeting:

  • Everything said is confidential and we ask that there are no recordings;
  • This group is to share with and support fellow caregivers;
  • Starting in 2021, these sessions are for caregivers only, but we will have a guest DIR Expert Training Leader with us the first Monday of each month to support us if anyone has questions or would like this additional support;
  • This is not a clinical treatment program. This is a parent-led support service. ICDL strongly encourages parents to also obtain professional clinical support from a DIRFloortime provider. You can search for providers HERE or access the Home Program.
  • Feel free to send feedback, suggestions, etc. to me anytime

I started out by showing a few resources today:

A parent of a young child started ABA as recommended by their doctor and the parent is wondering how Floortime will help their child be social, which ABA does not seem to do. A number of parents gave their experiences of how they’ve seen their children be more social and I described an overview of the developmental approach and it’s focus on intrinsic motivation, relating, communicating and thinking by making sure the child feels safe and doesn’t have overwhelming (to them) demands place on them that they are not able to handle, feel respected, and on having fun just being together. The “I’ in the model focuses on that child’s profile which gives us information on how to interact to accommodate their profile and then we meet them where they are at developmentally, the “D” by following their lead.

I suggested going to the Start Here link to follow the links at the top about what DIR/Floortime is and how it helps a child progress socially and emotionally and then working through the list under “Guide to…” where you can read how to determine your child’s sensory processing profile and where they are developmentally.

I re-iterated how essential building that foundation is for children to move into academics later on and mentioned these four podcasts:

I referenced the latest podcast about DIR/Floortime Summer Camps where legendary Floortime OT, Rosemary White described many of these processes so eloquently and that this coming weekend, one of our parent participants, Teresa, is featured in the podcast discussing how Floortime has helped her son and her family. These podcasts also describe that process of enabling our child to become more social through DIR/Floortime.

I described how ABA will focus on putting demands on a child to learn skills whereas Floortime comes from the opposite place. Let’s have the child be interested in coming to us and thinking versus memorizing scripts. I referred to the podcast with Dr. Gil Tippy on how Strategies Don’t Promote Growth. I also alerted to an upcoming podcast I’ll be doing on Positive Development with Dr. Joshua Feder and colleagues who are more open to blending approaches to accommodate families, and on how best to do that.

A parent shared that during the pandemic they’ve witnessed tremendous development in their child after reading the book, The Essential Partnership by the Greenspans.

Parents had questions about transitions and about screentime. I said there’s information scattered across podcasts about both but I will try to do podcasts dedicated to each topic independently. In the meantime, I suggested these podcasts:

A reminder that you can see the schedule for the rest of the summer under the EVENTS menu above.

Here are the usual resources to check out:

If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me!

July 5, 2021

Just a reminder about our parent support meeting:

  • Everything said is confidential and we ask that there are no recordings;
  • This group is to share with and support fellow caregivers;
  • Starting in 2021, these sessions are for caregivers only, but we will have a guest DIR Expert Training Leader with us the first Monday of each month to support us if anyone has questions or would like this additional support;
  • This is not a clinical treatment program. This is a parent-led support service. ICDL strongly encourages parents to also obtain professional clinical support from a DIRFloortime provider. You can search for providers HERE or access the Home Program.
  • Feel free to send feedback, suggestions, etc. to me anytime

Being the first week of the month, we had a DIR Expert training leader guest, Occupational Therapist, Morgan Weissman who joined us and answered questions from parents. You can see the podcasts I’ve done with Morgan here:

The first question came from a caregiver who can get Occupational Therapy (OT) covered by insurance, but it’s more behavioural where they cornered their child, wanted the child sitting, etc. versus finding a sensory integration Floortime OT that they have to pay out of pocket for. The parent was at OT for 1st time, so didn’t know what it ‘should’ be, but it felt uncomfortable watching their child be forced to do things the child was uncomfortable with. Morgan and I agreed that the ‘Occupation’ should be play! If the parent can share with the OT that they want a more developmentally-based approach that includes sensory integration and they are not cooperative with that, perhaps the ‘covered by insurance’ part is not important. We have to go with our gut about what is right for our child.

Another parent asked about ‘hand under hand’ techniques rather than ‘hand over hand’ instead, to let kids be director and Morgan agreed that what we hear from neurodivergent adults and autism self-advocates is that if it’s hand-over-hand, they probably aren’t ready for that skill yet and that’s ok. Joleen Fernald talked about hand under hand in this podcast and Morgan suggested a podcast by OT Meg Proctor called ‘Learn Play Thrive.

What can I expect from our 1st OT assessment?” a parent asked. Morgan says to look for a strong foundation in sensory integration and someone who can think big picture and see things from a developmental framework and who understands the family model. Look for who can incorporate a sensory integration routine into your daily life, someone who’s fun, wants to play, is warm, and whom you feel YOU can have a good relationship with. If you aren’t seeing that in the assessment then it might be an indication to keep looking.

Follow up: “Is there a way to ask for the OT to be more Floortime-y?” Morgan says that yes, most OTs should be open to what works best for your family so tell them what you want, what you see helps your child and have them read up on the items in the above answer. 

A parent says that their son loves to lay on floor and roll cars on floor. Morgan says that what we’re hearing from the neurodivergent community is that there are sensations that our kids seek that we don’t understand. There’s something so magnificent and beautiful and soothing for them watching that. It could be a way to control their visual field, or playing around with their eyes and experimenting how they can focus. It could be that laying down gives them proprioceptive input to help them understand where their body is in space. Morgan says that the visual system sends info to your vestibular system, so it could have to do with those senses or even a tactile sense.

A Developmental Optometrist looks at how the eyes work together, depth perception, follow a moving target, etc. that is different than what an opthamologist does in assessing visual acuity. A Developmental Optometrist does Vision Therapy. Morgan says that low tone in the body could be in eye muscles too. I suggested that everyone listen to my podcast with OT Robbie Levy where she discussed low tone. Morgan provided these links for D.O.s in the Manhattan area:

Vision exercises start laying down on the child’s back so you can move your eyes without moving your head. I described how my son’s therapist uses Mario Kart, his greatest current interest, to engage him in his vision exercises so that the flashlight he has to follow along the ceiling is the wand of the Koopaling wizards!

What about a 3 yr old?” Morgan says that yes, developmentally as kids crawl and move closer and farther from something their vision is developing. You can play many kind of peekaboo and other games to work on vision exercises with a young child.

Morgan also points out that accommodation for a child in school is the law and it may be that a Developmental Optometrist can help you identify if  your child needs bigger print, less clutter on a page or in the environment, etc. in conjunction with an OT as well. I suggested my Early literacy blog where our developmental reading consultant provided these kinds of tips for early readers and writers.

A parent asked for sleeping strategies based on the DIR model to make a 3-yr-old almost 4 sleep independently down the road? The parent will lay down with the child at 8:30 PM and they’ll talk about what to happen during the day then do chores then come back to check. Morgan comments on how supportive that is to help the child feel safe and envision what’s happening. Routine and predictability is good for sleep: same time, read the same books, first this__, then this __. For attachment, you can give your child a pajama shirt that you slept in for 2 nights so your scent regulates them. Morgan says to think of the ‘I’ (Individual differences). What type of input is calming and organizing for your child? Some say to avoid vestibular input 2 hrs before bed, for instance, but for some people that might be supportive. Avoid screen time before bed. Massage is great before bed, i.e., deep pressure, and if they can tolerate lotion that helps. There are many ‘sleep sensory diet’ recommendations out there. You can also acknowledge your child with, “I hear you, you want to sleep with mommy, it’s so cozy; I have to prepare breakfast for tomorrow; I can’t wait to see you tomorrow and do something fun; I will check on you while you sleep“, etc. I mentioned how Dr. Gordon Neufeld gives a lot of suggestions about bridging the separation gap by little things like Morgan said, but also putting down paper hearts ever hour during the night so your child finds them all upon waking to know you came and checked on them, etc.

A parent asked if sensory needs change over time as their child suddenly loves being upside down. Sensory systems do change over time; a child knows what their body needs, Morgan says, and puberty really changes lots of chemicals and hormones. I suggested two podcasts that are must-listens!

Is the Rebecca Listener coming back?” a parent asked. Morgan will tell Chris Hernandez there is interest!

Recommendations for OT/DIR in Jersey City or Manhattan?

Occuplay is Morgan’s practice and if you email her she has other suggestions in the area. Please contact AFFECT AUTISM for Morgan’s email.

A parent asked about a child who has a very tough time with transitions in preschool and who won’t sit still for more than a couple of minutes. Only the OT at school is trained in sensory integration. What can this parent do? Morgan says to make sure the schedule is doing processing activities, looking at the child’s FEDCs and if they haven’t mastered the first 6, working on those pre-academics. Do lots of sensory activities and spend time outdoors, rain or shine. Here are a few great Pre-academics podcasts you can use as references for the school team:

A reminder that you can see the schedule for the rest of the summer under the EVENTS menu above.

Here are the usual resources to check out:

If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me!

June 28, 2021

Just a reminder about our parent support meeting:

  • Everything said is confidential and we ask that there are no recordings;
  • This group is to share with and support fellow caregivers;
  • Starting in 2021, these sessions are for caregivers only, but we will have a guest DIR Expert Training Leader with us the first Monday of each month to support us if anyone has questions or would like this additional support;
  • This is not a clinical treatment program. This is a parent-led support service. ICDL strongly encourages parents to also obtain professional clinical support from a DIRFloortime provider. You can search for providers HERE or access the Home Program.
  • Feel free to send feedback, suggestions, etc. to me anytime

A caregiver just started in person Floortime with practitioner at a clinic and found the information on the sensory profile very helpful. They are now wondering about whether to spend money on an intensive at somewhere like A Total Approach or weekly in-person Floortime sessions and wondered if anyone had feedback.

  • A Total Approach is run by Occupational Therapist Maude Le Roux and these podcasts with her might be helpful:
  • The Floortime Center offers intensives and consultation, based on Floortime as Dr. Greenspan coached it to the Center’s directors
  • Weekly Floortime sessions in person are a great way to stay consistent and continue to learn how to interact with your child to support and promote their development
  • The DIR Home Program can do this virtually and has received fabulous feedback

We discussed how there’s really no correct choice. Each has their slant and focus and it depends what you are looking for. You can get a free consultation with most of them to help you decide.

A caregiver asked about what to say to others in public when your child approaches and touches them. The caregiver explained to the kids that the child was autistic and why they touched them and noticed that the autistic child was listening. We talked about how we want to say anything as if the child understands and can hear everything. We can even check in with the child and say something that conveys, “I told the other kids that you are autistic and explained how you were communicating with them that you enjoyed watching them play and wanted to be a part of it.” You can speak for the child with them beside you and check in, “Was that correct?” If you guessed incorrectly, they will usually let you know! As long as you are respectful and have a good relationship, that is most important.

I gave the example of Carly Fleishmann who taught us the importance of presuming competence.

Another caregiver talked about their child’s compulsion to throw everything. We all chimed in with stories of how our children throw and love banging things on the floor, etc.! I shared how Dr. Tippy encouraged me to make it interactive, so when my son was throwing pinecones on the roof one after another, he jumped in and said, “Hey! I want a turn!” as he reached out his hand. I shared how we found a circle with a net in the middle that looked like a shark with fish beanbags and got our son to throw the beanbags into the shark’s mouth yelling, “Nam! Nam!” then burp them out, to be silly and fun. But I especially stressed my podcast with O.T. Virginia Spielmann called the Little Scientist which is a must-listen!

There was also some discussion around sleep. How do we get our children to sleep on their own? I was not the one to ask on this! I am a very lenient parent around sleep location! But some parents gave some suggestions. One parent puts pillows around their young child so when they kick and move in their sleep, they have that feeling of security when they hit the pillows instead of blank air. Others have put the child’s bed next to theirs in the parent bedroom. I reminded everyone that Dr. Amanda Kriegel mentioned in a podcast recently that she doesn’t care where anyone sleeps, so long as they get a good night’s sleep.

If I forgot anything or if anyone has any suggestions for next week, feel free to contact me!

A reminder that next week is the first week of the month, so we will have a DIR Expert with us, O.T. Morgan Weissman!

Here are the usual resources to check out:

If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me!

June 21, 2021

Just a reminder about our parent support meeting:

  • Everything said is confidential and we ask that there are no recordings;
  • This group is to share with and support fellow caregivers;
  • Starting in 2021, these sessions are for caregivers only, but we will have a guest DIR Expert Training Leader with us the first Monday of each month to support us if anyone has questions or would like this additional support;
  • This is not a clinical treatment program. This is a parent-led support service. ICDL strongly encourages parents to also obtain professional clinical support from a DIRFloortime provider. You can search for providers HERE or access the Home Program.
  • Feel free to send feedback, suggestions, etc. to me anytime

A parent’s preschool has told them that their child must take the placement they assign, which is like a full-day classroom but the parent wants the child in the regular preschool. They said if you don’t take what we offer, you are out of luck. The parent has contacted an advocate agency and is looking into the appeal, but we also discussed if we’d rather find another school and how we can get a Floortime professional to advocate for them as well.

Another parent had a great experience with their 14-year-old talking while laying beside each other about a wampus. I suggested the podcast with Dr. Gil Tippy about how Floortime is adolescent-led and the parent also asked about his Dirty Hands Developmental Alliance.

Another parent shared that their child now loves the bath after being terrified of it a year ago. Floortime helped.

There was some questions about a Developmental Optometrist and vision therapy and we shared some stories about our children’s experiences with that.

This led to a discussion around going to the dentist. Those who had the best experiences had a dentist who asked which chair do you want to sit in, which flavour toothpaste do you want, etc. and allowed visits ever 6 weeks or 3 months so the child got used to going.

I shared this viral video of a fantastic doctor giving a baby a vaccine in a playful way.

I expressed how we can wonder if we prepare our kids too much if we are making them more anxious rather than going with it in the moment. But a parent said that sometimes bad experiences turn out to be good. The experience of having a cavity made their child brush their teeth regularly to avoid that experience in the future! At the clinic getting blood drawn, the child reassured another scared kid, even though they never talk to strangers!

Here are the usual resources to check out:

If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me!

June 14, 2021

Just a reminder about our parent support meeting:

  • Everything said is confidential and we ask that there are no recordings;
  • This group is to share with and support fellow caregivers;
  • Starting in 2021, these sessions are for caregivers only, but we will have a guest DIR Expert Training Leader with us the first Monday of each month to support us if anyone has questions or would like this additional support;
  • This is not a clinical treatment program. This is a parent-led support service. ICDL strongly encourages parents to also obtain professional clinical support from a DIRFloortime provider. You can search for providers HERE or access the Home Program.
  • Feel free to send feedback, suggestions, etc. to me anytime

I announced the upcoming Father’s Support Group with Dr. Robert Naseef on Father’s Day weekend, as well as a food resource that an O.T. sent to me and the link to my latest podcast with self-advocate and advisor to ICDL, Emile Gouws. I forgot to remind you to sign up for upcoming talk THIS WEDNESDAY with the CEO and our Self-Advocate advisor, Emile Gouws on What is Autism? Please consider signing up!

A caregiver mentioned still waiting on therapists to come for home visits because they’ve been doing Floortime at home but need support. When the therapist came to the home, they were able to get more words out of their child, more than they have been able to at home. I mentioned this coming weekend’s podcast on WAA (Words-Action-Affect) and hope that it could provide some support until the therapist can come.

Another caregiver had a free one-hour consultation with A Total Approach that was very helpful and made them wonder if there are things they missed that they can remediate. I pointed the caregiver to the podcast Remediation versus Accommodation with the owner of the clinic, Maude Le Roux, about this topic and what they do at their clinic (where I’ve brought my son 6 or 7 times over the last many years). They suggested Tomatis listening therapy so I explained my experience with it, which was that we didn’t notice much at first, but every time, about 6 weeks later as the brain assimilates the new input, we’d see a lot of behavioural challenges followed by a developmental leap.

I also brought us back to the larger topic: What do we expect? If we are trying to ‘fix’ our children, we will feel failure because our children don’t need fixing. When we instead focus on supporting and guiding them to bring out their potential, we meet them where they are at and support. Any ‘treatment’ that aims to remediate or support is never a ‘cure-all’. It’s over time that we see slow progress (and sometimes leaps of progress). Not everyone can afford extra remediation and that’s ok because kids develop over time regardless.

Another caregiver with a young child is enrolling them in a preschool that wants to do ABA, but the parent wants the child to be in a regular preschool experience as the child has no behavioural issues. The parent has voiced their concerns and are waiting for a response. I remembered to ask for this kind of input because ICDL is planning a class on advocating for your child in school and they are asking for what kind of problems you have and what you want support with. I will be passing on any feedback you have for this course (that I might be facilitating with the instructor, Jackie Bartell).

I pointed out that this family is close to The Floortime Center which might be of assistance because they also have a school.

Another parent responded that there is no Floortime where they are either and their child doesn’t get to see or play with other children either. They have found the ICDL DIR Home Program very helpful. After months and months with a speech therapist and no real progress, they’ve seen a lot of progress with only 10 weeks of the DIR Home Program. But similar to the other parent, they are working with the local school for assessment and are at their mercy. They only get whatever they offer, unfortunately.

This sparked some discussion among parents of young children new to Floortime on how to promote speech production and how to start Floortime. I suggested these resources:

Speech and Language and advocating:

Another parent asked about insurance. Many states are working on this. Being in California, I told them to keep their eye on the DIR Coalition of California.

Here are the usual resources to check out:

If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me!

June 7, 2021

Just a reminder about our parent support meeting:

  • Everything said is confidential and we ask that there are no recordings;
  • This group is to share with and support fellow caregivers;
  • Starting in 2021, these sessions are for caregivers only, but we will have a guest DIR Expert Training Leader with us the first Monday of each month to support us if anyone has questions or would like this additional support;
  • This is not a clinical treatment program. This is a parent-led support service. ICDL strongly encourages parents to also obtain professional clinical support from a DIRFloortime provider. You can search for providers HERE or access the Home Program.
  • Feel free to send feedback, suggestions, etc. to me anytime

Today was the first week of the month and as such, our guest DIR/Expert training leader was Speech & Language Pathologist Bridget Palmer.

We welcomed our new caregivers who attended this week and I announced the upcoming Father’s Support Group with Dr. Robert Naseef on Father’s Day weekend, as well as the new ICDL talk coming up next week with the CEO and our Self-Advocate advisor, Emile Gouws on What is Autism? Please consider signing up! There’s also a great Music and Floortime course coming up this Friday!

A parent asked Bridget a question about their son using the wrong word for things, such as saying “Go!” when they wanted more ice cream. Bridget said that’s a very affective word and to think about the affective intent behind the word. Children pick something that matches the emotion of the situation. Barry Prizant‘s work talks a lot about scripting. If we can connect with the emotion of what someone is saying to us, we can connect with them.

Another parent said that their child says some words that are correct and some that aren’t and wondered if this is the start of language? One word used is the word for father in their language and another word is something they don’t understand. Bridget said that comprehension comes before expressive language and that whatever the words uttered, they’re meaningful words for the child. I gave a few examples. I asked my son to repeat my brother’s name and my son said “bum” then I asked him to say “Grammie” and he said “Bim“. To this day, he calls his grandmother ‘Bim’.

Also, when my son was 18 months old running on the boardwalk in Quebec City he kept stopping, pointing to the waving flags and exclaiming, “Ga!” I pointed out that he may have only been hearing the final syllable of ‘flag’ due to auditory processing differences, but either way, I knew he was saying ‘flag’.

Bridget says to think about what the sounds that the child makes mean to them? Are they expressing frustration, happiness, or something else? What do the vocalizations mean and how are they being used? In DIR/Floortime we are thinking about the emotion and the experience and we synchronize our social referencing which can include eye contact, gestures, actions when we communicate with a partner (our child) as our kids are learning how to synchronize it all.

Another parent said that their child is verbal but keeps repeating the same sentence over and over “The caterpillar becomes a butterfly.” Bridget asks if you said the same thing to me over and over and I didn’t respond, how would it feel?
You’re saying it for a reason, even if I don’t know why so let’s always acknowledge that the child is communicating with us. She asks us to consider when does the child tend to repeat things? The parent said that when the child sees a butterfly, and with things they like, they’ll say it over and over. They can’t get him to talk about something else.

Bridget says that the child repeats the things that they love because they love it, are trying to master it/practicing, or trying to feel calm & organized. They’ll go back to what’s most comfortable and they know if something is new and they’re not sure. It’s great to expand on the phrase, but please join your child so they feel valued and heard. Speaking out loud is often about processing.

I suggested a few podcasts on this topic:

The parent said that they want their child to be able to communicate and have social interaction and are not sure if this scripting is because of their ASD diagnosis (Autism Spectrum Disorder). Bridget says it’s not ‘because’ of their ASD. It’s a neurodiversity experience. It tells us about your child’s profile and about their language and processing. Bridget is cautious about distraction. Instead join, expand and stretch. Think about their emotional and sensory state. Is the child using it to be organized, or is the child is becoming disorganized…if disorganized, why? How can we help them become organized again? Are they tired/hungry/sad, etc.? Before Bridget distracts, she’s asking what they are telling her by repeating and repeating?

She mentioned that Temple Grandin talks about repetition and how she liked to ask her mom to repeat things because she liked the way it sounded. She asked the same questions over and over because it made her feel comfortable. Bridget says meet your child emotionally in that moment. The parent said thank you and finds it overwhelming still, being new to autism with a young newly diagnosed child. They want to let the child be themself and also want to make sure they can help themself. Bridget heard that this parent is wanting to be the best parent they can be.

I emphasized for parents that according to DIR, we get here by building back and forth. I gave an example of trying to tell my Kindergarten teacher that my cousin was in the morning class (I was in the afternoon class). I couldn’t remember the word ‘cousin’ so said ‘friend’. I was disappointed that my teacher didn’t understand what I was trying to say. I also suggested people watch Mark Rober’s video about his son repeating the same questions like my own son does all the time, too.

Another caregiver said that their child is very vocal although non verbal and at the splashpad was running and having a ball, vocalizing non stop and wondered what they can we do to promote language? Bridget asked what the vocalizations meant. The caregiver said it meant joy. Bridget said this is important because it was meaningful, intentional and purposeful and the fact that the child was moving their body, getting a sensory experience and an emotional experience which are all being synchronized was facilitating the most vocalizing. Bridget suggests supporting them by letting them move (for this child, specifically) and provide sensory experience. Dr. Greenspan and Wieder talk about JOY and sharing joyful experiences. Mirror the vocalizations, “Wow it’s so fun!” The child was sharing emotion. Match it.

I reminded everyone that although a child may be older, they might be at the speech stage of an 8-10 month old where they might babble and what do we do? We babble back. You can guess and say, “Oh this is so fun” and if you’re wrong, the child’s body language will tell you then you can guess something else, “Oh! The water is cold! That feels so good!“, etc.

Another caregiver said that their child scripts non stop and they try to match and do all that Bridget said. They made friends with neighbours and the other child asked why the autistic child repeated everything. The caregiver explained that the child is happy to make a friend and is just learning, understands everything, but can’t reply. How we explain our children is going to be others’ perception of them. This caregiver heard Temple Grandin say that as she repeated it, she saw everything fall into place. It’s about accepting and waiting.

Here are the usual resources to check out:

If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me!

May 17, 2021

Just a reminder about our parent support meeting:

  • Everything said is confidential and we ask that there are no recordings;
  • This group is to share with and support fellow caregivers;
  • Starting in 2021, these sessions are for caregivers only, but we will have a guest DIR Expert Training Leader with us the first Monday of each month to support us if anyone has questions or would like this additional support;
  • This is not a clinical treatment program. This is a parent-led support service. ICDL strongly encourages parents to also obtain professional clinical support from a DIRFloortime provider. You can search for providers HERE or access the Home Program.
  • Feel free to send feedback, suggestions, etc. to me anytime

Just a reminder that there will be no session for the next two weeks due to the holidays in Canada (Victoria Day) and the U.S. (Memorial Day). We will resume on Monday, June 7th.

We welcomed our new caregivers who attended this week. I pointed out how to find DIR clinics providing Floortime through the Services-Others link on this website. I mentioned the STAR Institute in Colorado for Sensory Processing that is also listed on that link. You can also find providers at the DIRectory under the Parents tab at ICDL.

We had many questions about the Floortime Intensives that are offered at clinics. I described our experience with the intensives we’ve had at A Total Approach just outside of Philadelphia and how they’re like a kickstart into Floortime. I described how much it helped us and how the focus at each is a bit different. Maude has a focus on remediation within the traditional therapies to help with disabling sensory challenges, e.g., Tomatis listening therapy for auditory processing, Interactive Metronome within O.T. sessions for timing and sequencing challenges, etc. I shared that I have done podcasts where aspects of these are described:

A caregiver shared a story about how they had an empowering experience of not being overwhelmed by their child’s meltdown in front of strangers, and with strangers in the park pulling their children away after noticing the child was different. Usually this caregiver would be discouraged and affected negatively, but this time, they took it in stride and were ok with it. They shared that their non-speaking child will script from Beauty and the Beast, “I’m not a beast“. Our children can often to be made to feel like they are beasts when other don’t understand them.

Another parent shared a success story with toilet training through the help of another caregiver in the group. Yay! We talked about how you can never know the future and all of us develop. Our kids are toilet trained at different times and in the heart of it, we feel like things will never change, but we can all have hope that things do change as our children are ready.

One of the parents shared they signed up for ICDL’s upcoming music course. I highly encouraged everyone to sign up. It’s taught by Dr. John Carpente, whom I did this podcast with about Floortime and Music Therapy which you can watch/listen to to decide if you’d like to take the class.

Here are the usual resources to check out:

If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me!

May 10, 2021

Just a reminder about our parent support meeting:

  • Everything said is confidential and we ask that there are no recordings;
  • This group is to share with and support fellow caregivers;
  • Starting in 2021, these sessions are for caregivers only, but we will have a guest DIR Expert Training Leader with us the first Monday of each month to support us if anyone has questions or would like this additional support;
  • This is not a clinical treatment program. This is a parent-led support service. ICDL strongly encourages parents to also obtain professional clinical support from a DIRFloortime provider. You can search for providers HERE or access the Home Program.
  • Feel free to send feedback, suggestions, etc. to me anytime

Psychologist and DIR Expert Trainer with ICDL, Amanda Kriegel joined us today!

We had a few caregivers new to Floortime today with some questions. A few parents gave glowing reviews of the DIR Home Program  and virtual coaching with DIR Expert Trainers. I referred them to the recent podcast with our guest, Dr. Kriegel. There was also some discussion of insurance coverage. Luckily those in NJ can get some coverage under Medicaid for some Floortime services and other states cover Floortime and the PLAY Project.

There was a question about the effectiveness of virtual versus in-person services. Amanda said that it varies. She has also been doing a hybrid for some families of a home visit with some in-clinic sessions and virtual sessions. You can make great strides with the parents during virtual coaching, and depending on the age and developmental level of the child, in-person can be better with some children. Amanda mentioned that Gretchen Kamke is an Occupational Therapist who does amazing virtual sessions. I plan to have her on the podcast in the future.

A caregiver has had success engaging their child with affect and wonders if going forward longterm, “Is it going to be like a door that I’m going to have to tease open all the time? With time, will the door be slightly ajar and eventually (hopefully) open more and more?” Amanda said yes, that is what it is like but it gets to the “I” in the model (Individual differences). Some kids develop more quickly than others. I shared that for me it was much harder in the early days when my son didn’t seem to share attention or be engaged, but that as he develops and gets older, Floortime is much easier. I’ve documented his progress on my blog and in the podcasts with Dr. Andrea Davis where you can really see the progress over time.

A caregiver is concerned about a child’s intense and dramatic swings from being regulated to being dysregulated with screaming and self-hitting. Amanda reminded us that dysregulation can be caused by internal or external things and that autism can have comorbidities as well. A licensed counsellor, psychologist, or psychiatrist with a developmental perspective (ideally DIR/Floortime) might be able to help but also for those with smearing behaviours, a G.I. (gastrointestinal) specialist might be able to help. The idea is to rule out biological reasons that are medical. Amanda also mentioned Interoception can affect soiling and toileting issues.

There was a lot of discussion in the chat about our kids getting EEGs or hearing tested and our anxiety for getting through the appointment which will be traumatic for our kids. Parents gave their experiences and I gave some strategies I’ve used with my son like preparing him for all the steps that will happen, letting him know he will be scared, but that I’ll be there to support him, what the doctor will look like–the headband thing the ENT doc wears, and what they will do (look in his ears with a wand), and tried to relate it to cartoons he’s seen (Suzy sheep is a doctor–I think? on Peppa Pig, etc.). Then we say that he will need to be brave and it will be hard, but he can do it. Then we can go to the toy store after to get a new toy to help him focus when it’s hard. For the EEG and dentist we used video games or cartoons to get through it as well. All of that did not make it easy, but it helped us get through it.

A parent asked if it’s harmful to have ABA or Early Start Denver Model ESDM alongside of Floortime. It’s definitely a personal decision and Amanda and I both agreed it depends on the therapist and how warm they are with the child and how safe the child feels with them. Amanda doesn’t have a problem with a warm ABA person working on toilet training, for example, if the child is ready developmentally. This led to someone asking how to get buy-in from family members for Floortime and many parents shared that they brought family members, including siblings, to O.T. appointments to see Floortime coaching in action.

A caregiver asked about how to be more playful with a child. I mentioned that it’s about having fun, being silly, and ‘nonsense’ and laughing together around their interests. There are some good suggestions in these podcasts:

Someone asked about redirecting their child back to online schooling when they aren’t focused. Amanda said in general, we want to find the kid you love in your kid and develop that a little more by finding that rich connection and doing things together over directing your child to comply with your ideas. See last week’s parent notes below for how to incorporate Floortime in with academics.

Here are the usual resources to check out:

If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me!

May 3, 2021

Just a reminder about our parent support meeting:

  • Everything said is confidential and we ask that there are no recordings;
  • This group is to share with and support fellow caregivers;
  • Starting in 2021, these sessions are for caregivers only, but we will have a guest DIR Expert Training Leader with us the first Monday of each month to support us if anyone has questions or would like this additional support;
  • This is not a clinical treatment program. This is a parent-led support service. ICDL strongly encourages parents to also obtain professional clinical support from a DIRFloortime provider. You can search for providers HERE or access the Home Program.
  • Feel free to send feedback, suggestions, etc. to me anytime

NOTE THAT OUR FIRST WEEK OF THE MONTH EXPERT TRAINING LEADER GUEST WAS POSTPONED TO NEXT MONDAY. Psychologist Amanda Kriegel will join us next Monday!

A theme of today was people misunderstanding us or our children and how infuriating it can be–other people’s ignorance. One parent had a social worker tell them they cannot argue in front of their child or the child will get brain damage, almost accusing them of being bad parents. Another parent brought their child to the park for the first time in a year only to have a parent snap at their child for approaching their own child’s stroller. Another parent’s child was happily screaming at the library and another parent asked the librarian to kick them out. It can be so discouraging when people aren’t empathetic and understanding to our situations and to our child’s differences.

I gave a reference to check out: A self-advocate professional working with autistic adults in England who is an autism consultant have a great twitter feed (most active) and blog (less active) with research and information, pointing out errors in how people mistreat and misunderstand autistics:

A couple of parents expressed difficulty in finding a place at school for their child. Special education isn’t appropriate, but there really isn’t the proper support. A parent was frustrated with the school working on the alphabet with their child when they have explained that their child reads and understands. No, the school insisted the child present their skills in a particular way. Pointless exercises in compliance can really wear us down when others don’t presume competence with our children.

Another parent was excited their child was communicating with strangers at a visit with neighbours, but the child is still speech delayed, so the other child and parent didn’t really understand. The parent asked for some ideas. A few of us suggested just commenting on what’s happening as it happens: “Oh, my child is really excited to play with you and tell you something!” for the benefit of the others and so your child sees that you understand them.

I have a few podcasts about working on academics in a Floortime way, including an upcoming podcast with Robbie Levy coming in the next two weeks (part 1 and 2). It would be great if all educators had and used this information!

 

Here are the usual resources to check out:

If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me!

April 26, 2021

Just a reminder about our parent support meeting:

  • Everything said is confidential and we ask that there are no recordings;
  • This group is to share with and support fellow caregivers;
  • Starting in 2021, these sessions are for caregivers only, but we will have a guest DIR Expert Training Leader with us the first Monday of each month to support us if anyone has questions or would like this additional support;
  • This is not a clinical treatment program. This is a parent-led support service. ICDL strongly encourages parents to also obtain professional clinical support from a DIRFloortime provider. You can search for providers HERE or access the Home Program.
  • Feel free to send feedback, suggestions, etc. to me anytime

I made an announcement the DIR Coalition of California is asking for help as an important bill just got passed in California. Please put a comment after the article. You could also add your name here for support.

One parent expressed trying to find a Floortime practitioner to come to their home since the schools are closed during our lockdown in Ontario, Canada, and how difficult it is to find. They have a helper, but the person is not a Floortimer. I suggested telling them about the Start Here link on this website and watching a few of the intro videos near the top.

Someone said they heard that you get Occupational Therapy (OT) for children at the first and second of the Functional Emotional Developmental Capacities, a Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP) for the third and fourth developmental capacities, and a Clinical Psychologist for the fifth and sixth capacities and asked for my thoughts. I said that I can understand that someone would say OT is important because regulation and engagement might be hard if the child has sensory integration challenges, and an OT can help with this, but that OT is important through all the capacities. As for an SLP at the next capacities, they might have said that because these are the capacities that work on circles of communication, but that an SLP also works on pre-linguistics and that is a precursor to speech. And SLP works on communication, not just speech! Finally, the reason they might have said you wouldn’t go to a psychologist until the later capacities is because psychologists usually engage in symbolic or abstract concepts and your child would require emotional and logical thinking. This might be the only thing I’d agree with of this rumour, but a psychologist also works with parents.

Someone asked what is the difference between joint attention and shared attention, so I gave Colette Ryan’s example from our recent podcast where she said she went to a concert with her husband, so they had joint attention, but because her husband didn’t like the band and music as much as her, they didn’t share the experience.

I mentioned that I would be recording a podcast with SLP Joleen Fernald this week who specializes in AAC devices for communication so a few parents gave me questions I could ask her, about comparing Spelling to Communicate versus picture-based devices. Someone else remembered that at the ICDL Conference in November, Joleen recommended LAMP due to the kinesthetic aspect of having the symbols always in the same spot so the child can memorize the motor plan which makes it easier to communicate and gave us two links about it: here and here. Be sure to watch for that podcast because I will ask Joleen to share this information on this site more specifically and her reasons for recommending one AAC device over another.

Another parent wishes to find support for her husband to embrace Floortime. He is the only parent he knows with an autistic kid. I of course suggested Dr. Naseef’s group for fathers as a first step, even though it’s not explicitly about Floortime (but Dr. Naseef was the keynote speaker at ICDL’s conference a few years ago and is in some Floortime circles). Another parent was interested in this information as well. I emailed Dr. Naseef and he said the next support meeting, which happens monthly, will be on Saturday, May 15th. You can find out the details by emailing the address in the link here

In looking up the support group information, I came across this upcoming event that some parents might be interested in, and it reminded me of ICDL’s upcoming course, Let’s Talk About Race on Sunday, May 16th (which I took in March and I recommend it). Children of colour are diagnosed years later than white children in the United States and many other inequities exist. Eyes are opening up and Drexel University has an upcoming talk entitled, Navigating Race and Autism – Black Mothers’ Advocacy for Kids on the Spectrum which will be presented by Elizabeth Morgan who is an educator and mother of an autistic child. 

Another parent shared a celebration. Their non-speaking child saw a group of neighbourhood children and joined in, saying hi and played with them. The child did do some scripting. Then on the weekend said a few words that the parent was able to extend until the child said “want” “Mama” “bed” indicating the child wanted to sleep in the parent’s bed, not in their own bed. The parent was so excited that the words are coming and the child is trying so hard to communicate. We all celebrated!

Another parent shared how quickly their child learned to communicate “more” and “stop” during a fun experience at daycare. I reminded this parent that the child was so motivated to communicate these two words because the child was so engaged and that this parent could replicate that at home by finding an activity of interest to the child and doing Floortime.

Another parent shared that they found through a parent support group on Facebook a young man on the spectrum who is also hearing impaired and a college teacher offering sign language coaching. He is 35 years old and uses a board to communicate. The parent hired him right away because it was such a relief to find someone who knows their child’s experience and this parent expressed interest in getting to ask this young man’s mother how she helped him communicate. I suggested just asking the young man himself! I also suggested watching the podcast with ICDL’s newest advisor, self-advocate Emile Gouws.

Another parent listened to the recent pre-academics podcast and said it reinforced their approach on the importance of repetition in play so was pleased to share that with the group.

Here are the usual resources to check out:

If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me!

April 19, 2021

Just a reminder about our parent support meeting:

  • Everything said is confidential and we ask that there are no recordings;
  • This group is to share with and support fellow caregivers;
  • Starting in 2021, these sessions are for caregivers only, but we will have a guest DIR Expert Training Leader with us the first Monday of each month to support us if anyone has questions or would like this additional support;
  • This is not a clinical treatment program. This is a parent-led support service. ICDL strongly encourages parents to also obtain professional clinical support from a DIRFloortime provider. You can search for providers HERE or access the Home Program.
  • Feel free to send feedback, suggestions, etc. to me anytime

I made an announcement that Mike Fields, expert training leader and parent who has attended the support meetings, is now a part of the DIR Home Program along with another expert trainer, O.T. Gretchen Kamke. Both are a fabulous edition to the home program, which I highly recommend to anyone looking for virtual weekly DIR support.

A parent was concerned about the child who is super attached to Mom and even when Dad is available to play, still wants only to have Mom play. Another parent had the same experience and tried to redirect the child to Dad by facilitating an activity the child enjoys saying, “See! Daddy can do it, too!” This has started to work over time. Another participant offered that it is on the Dad to engage the child, giving an example of seeing a relative fully engage the child in their family who usually only wants Mom. I echoed that yes, I experience the same here. When my son wants Mama, there’s no way around it (especially at bedtime). It is hard, but each parent has to find a way to connect and engage with the child in their own way that they are comfortable doing. One participant said you have to be playful like a kid again.

This led to a conversation around intense interests of our children. When our child loves cars, trains, fruit, or some other topic, it’s an easier starting point to engage them from. But a parent asked, “How do we know what our kids love?” I suggested we need to expose them to different experiences and that is a lot harder to do during the pandemic. Toys, books, and especially movement! I suggested moving with the child–running and hiding games, swinging, etc. 

This led to a discussion around expanding during play. A parent mentioned that if they don’t do things the same way, the child gets frustrated and they don’t want the child to scream, so they give in. I brought up Mark Rober’s recent YouTube video about his autistic son and how he explained how predicting is comforting for his son and why, due to the unpredictability of sensory input. If you heard my latest podcast about our brains predicting and the possibility that our children have problems predicting, this makes sense.

I suggested listening to my podcast on Why Floortime is Child-Led where they gave numerous examples of how you can flex your child’s flexibility, playfully, when they are in a good mood. A parent said they have tried this with songs, which their child loves. They change up the gestures and the child has enjoyed it. I suggested making the seeming inflexibility a Floortime game where you can play the “I’m not doing it the right way game” by giving a response you know your child doesn’t think is right, then saying, “Oh no! I forget what it is!” or slowly approaching the idea of not getting it right, the way Mike Fields described in the child-led podcast. Little by little your child will get practice at it not turning out their way.

A parent is concerned about their 3-year-old’s excessive mouthing. We reviewed how mouthing is a very normal stage of development for babies and our kids often go through developmental stages later. There’s not so much you can do to stop it persay because the child is doing it for a reason. One parent said that their therapist told them the child is preparing for speech by awakening the muscles in the mouth. We know that babies take in information orally. Other parents suggested various sensory toys including vibrating ones (from here), or different textured foods to give your child’s mouth the input they’re seeking. Another suggestion was a lot of oral massage for the same reason.

A parent is struggling to find a DIR therapist who will do a home visit. Everyone is doing virtual learning now. We made some suggestions about filming as much as you can at home so the therapist can really get a feel for the child and the environment as if they had come to the home. With Covid restrictions, things aren’t opening up until June or so.

We ended off on a high note with a parent sharing that they actually put in a full 20-minute Floortime session with all four kids and how much fun they had. They were following this blog post. The non-speaking child actually verbally requested to continue the play so the parent was absolutely thrilled! We all celebrated with the parent. Woo hoo!

Here are the usual resources to check out:

If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me!

April 12, 2021

Just a reminder about our parent support meeting:

  • Everything said is confidential and we ask that there are no recordings;
  • This group is to share with and support fellow caregivers;
  • Starting in 2021, these sessions are for caregivers only, but we will have a guest DIR Expert Training Leader with us the first Monday of each month to support us if anyone has questions or would like this additional support;
  • This is not a clinical treatment program. This is a parent-led support service. ICDL strongly encourages parents to also obtain professional clinical support from a DIRFloortime provider. You can search for providers HERE or access the Home Program.
  • Feel free to send feedback, suggestions, etc. to me anytime  

We began with a brief debriefing about last week and how we are here to support each other. Sometimes some of what we experience requires support beyond what this group can offer and professional guidance is suggested. We can offer a safe place for one hour/week where you can share your experience with other like-minded parents in a safe, confidential space.

Next, continuing from last week we talked about phases of ‘behaviours’ that our children can go through that we can work around developmentally, but sometimes need to let our children work through them with our best support. I gave the examples of my son’s licking everyone phase, his hitting everyone phase, to his new name-calling phase. Another parent’s child is going through the ‘sticking fingers in other people’s nostrils’ phase. 

There were some good suggestions from the group such as having a toy that has holes next to their face when the child tries to do it and redirect the finger to the toy, then using affect to make that the game. Some examples were to use a puppet, or the popping toy like this one or this one, where the child can get a fun sensory experience by poking the hole. I remembered this crocodile toy I’ve had where you can play a fun anticipation game of pressing down the teeth one-by-one until the mouth closes on your finger.

I thanked one of the parents who suggested a course about advocating for your child at school and shared that ICDL is going to make it happen! Jackie Bartell and I will be presenting it before the next school year, late summer, so I asked for suggestions and will continue to take suggestions for the next few months. I suggested reviewing the podcast I did with Jackie Bartell about DIR in public schools. Some suggestions included the following:

  • It depends on the people at the school. Some are helpful, and others aren’t as helpful
  • Schools tell you, “He was good today“, but what does that mean? We want details!
    • Our kids are different at school so we want to know what they did more specifically
  • Not knowing how much to ask, how frequently to ask the school, or what’s appropriate
  • A parent suggested that in this course we provide a strategic message all parents can give to the schools everywhere so the schools everywhere hear the same thing
  • One parent took a parent advocacy course offered by a local community service and found it very helpful
    • They suggested connecting with one person at the school so they can be your eyes and ears
    • They suggested buying a notebook and writing a question or request and give it to the school via the child’s school bag and they can respond (e.g., “When he ate lunch today, did he stick his finger in the sandwich?” or, “I’d like my child to communicate with two other kids today.“)
    • It taught how to communicate effectively while being heard by the school

Next a few parents were discussing daycare options and trying to find something that wasn’t behaviourally-based. I suggested looking up Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, Teacher Tom, and even Montessori, which in some cases may be an ok fit. A parent said starting for just a couple hours might work best. We also heard warnings that even ‘special education friendly’ centres can seem great but then you find out they strap kids to chairs; you don’t know what they do when you’re not there! Another parent responded that they are trying to make the children ‘school ready’ since they will need to know how to sit at school so on some level it can be helpful to prepare them for that, but it’s a shame that that is the school system that exists in their future.

In this conversation, a parent shared that they were excited to see that their son was sitting on the grass with the other kids at preschool, which he would never do with them, and is now saying ‘hi’ and learning to say ‘bye’ to the other kids. I shared that my son and I were walking to the car at school pick up recently when said my son spontaneously said, “Hi, ____” to another student, new to the school. I was so happy to see that! He would have not done that even a year or two ago! I shared my amazement in the progress my son has made and shared that I went through all the phases like many parents in the group from diapers and behaviours to now.

This made another parent ask about getting diapers large enough for a growing child who is not yet toilet trained. I recalled my son wearing XL pull-ups long past when they were already too small on him. One parent found a site to get larger sized diapers but warned that it has two separate audiences: those who need larger diapers for toileting, and those who use larger size diapers for ‘fetishes’, so to beware of the site in case you get targeted with sexually explicit email or ads! I did go to the site and did not see anything offensive on their main page, so I think it’s OK…perhaps just don’t look too hard. Haha.

Someone asked about toilet training and that reminded me that Occupational Therapist and DIR Expert Training Leader, Maude Le Roux, has a toilet training course coming up for those interested. Another parent shared that Kelly Mahler has a shorter interoception toilet training course as well.

Someone in the chat asked about Early Start Denver Model. Please see this podcast comparing the approaches where you’ll see that ESDM is behavioural. Although it has elements of play in a natural setting, it is quite prescribed.

Here are the usual resources to check out:

If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me!

April 8, 2021

Just a reminder about our parent support meeting:

  • Everything said is confidential and we ask that there are no recordings;
  • This group is to share with and support fellow caregivers;
  • Starting in 2021, these sessions are for caregivers only, but we will have a guest DIR Expert Training Leader with us the first Monday of each month to support us if anyone has questions or would like this additional support;
  • This is not a clinical treatment program. This is a parent-led support service. ICDL strongly encourages parents to also obtain professional clinical support from a DIRFloortime provider. You can search for providers HERE or access the Home Program.

Thank you to Mike Fields who filled in as facilitator for me last week when my son was ill and home from school and thank you to him again for being our guest DIR Expert Trainer today!

We began with a bunch of kids on screen, so Mike held up various toys and stuffed animals, including a stuffed character from the book Hey Warrior, which is a book about anxiety that we discussed in this podcast.

I shared a new parent resource from the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN). Mike Fields shared that when his son turned 18, he found the ASAN resource on guardianship very helpful to have a discussion with his son about his feelings around guardianship and what to do. We talked about the value of listening to self-advocates, including on this podcast.

A parent’s child is having a gathering and they are worried because the child has had meltdowns with so many people around. The child wants a lot of people to attend, and will be upset if they don’t come, but is overwhelmed when they do come. The child likes gifts but will say that they don’t like the gift in front of the guests if they don’t want it. The parent’s anxiety is high.

Mike said you can think about it like a haunted house at an amusement park. It’s an approach-avoidance thing: you want it but you don’t. We want to think, “How do I emotionally navigate that?” and “How can we make it a little bit uncomfortable but not too overwhelming?” Another parent offered making a schedule and reviewing it in advance. Mike agreed, predictability is important and offered a bunch of suggestions to consider:

  • Consider the child’s praxis/motor planning where you have an idea, have to know the steps, the sequence of those steps, and how to adapt if the idea fails; when you’re stressed, the ability to do all that goes down
  • You get to define what success is for this gathering
  • Check in with him before each transition: next we’re going to do this…is that ok with you? are you ready for that? Try to read your son and make each step predictable and set up every part of it, including the environment to support success

The parent mentioned they’ve been practicing the ‘oops’ concept in play. When something doesn’t go as planned, they say, “Oops!” and wondered if this might work at the party. Mike mentioned that therapists tend to go “Oh no!” in play when car crashes but maybe the crashing wasn’t an ‘oh no’ to the child. “Oh no” is a value judgment, he says. If you instead make a checklist about the gathering you have items to check off. Once it’s checked, it’s done without the value judgment.

The parent mentioned that in play with their child they might make a recipe and say “Oh no! I put in the wrong ingredient! What do I do?” Mike said that the child feels safe when they’re the director. Perhaps you could play out a gathering in advance. He also suggested having a sign of VCR type stop/go/pause controls so they can stop. Mike uses that in gaming groups he does.

There was a discussion around shared custody. Mike suggested being open and transparent as they can with the children. Say you’re going to miss them and answer their questions without putting them on the spot or bad-talking the other parent. You can let kids know what the plan is and if that changes on you end, you’ll be sure to let them know. It’s about the ‘R’ in DIR, which is connection. Make the most of the time you do have and remember that it is scary for them too.

I also added some examples from Dr. Gordon Neufeld‘s attachment teachings. You can bridge the separation by talking about what you can’t wait to do when you see the children next. You can mention that you’ll have their favourite dinner read, for example. You can mention that Saturday at lunch time when you’re eating lunch you will be thinking of them.

Another parent has a pre-teen who has started saying that they are angry and want to kill themself. The child heard this being said on a television documentary and has been saying this kind of thing to get out of online school. They have consulted a psychologist who is working with them. Mike agreed that any talk of suicide needs to be taken very seriously and was happy to hear there is a psychologist involved. He said to consider the child’s developmental level and ask why it is hard for the child to sit at virtual school and how challenging this pandemic is for everyone.

Mike also suggested that besides making sure you know about the child’s intent and whether they have thought of a plan to carry this out, you might focus less on processing what it means to end your life, and more about connecting around what’s difficult to the child: “You know when you say that, that makes me think something is hard or scary. I wonder what is hard for you?” Mike shared that developmentally, we start thinking about the concept of separation with the game Pee-a-boo. It evolves into hide-and-seek and then into Mom and Dad going away for the day then coming back later, etc. It’s playing with separation gradually. It’s about the child reaching the understanding that Dad is there at work even though you can’t see him. Death is the ultimate abstract concept for all of us.

Another parent mentioned that their child scratches the wall for hours and there are many marks on the wall. They suspect it is sensory and anxiety-related. Mike says it could also be boredom or not knowing what else to do. They are working with an occupational therapist to figure out how to help the child replace this behaviour with another more constructive one.

We ran out of time, but today was heavy! We made sure to suggest that parents seek professional help for serious concerns and a reminder that this parent meeting is not a clinical treatment program. This is a parent-led support service and after such intense discussions we suggest seeking out a friend or significant other to reflect with around your own sense of safety and coping. It was a helpful to have Mike with us to discuss these difficult topics.

The next six weeks we are back to our usual time on Mondays at 1pm Eastern.

Here are the usual resources to check out:

If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me!

March 22, 2021

Just a reminder about our parent support meeting:

  • Everything said is confidential and we ask that there are no recordings;
  • This group is to share with and support fellow caregivers;
  • Starting in 2021, these sessions are for caregivers only, but we will have a guest DIR Expert Training Leader with us the first Monday of each month to support us if anyone has questions or would like this additional support;
  • This is not a clinical treatment program. This is a parent-led support service. ICDL strongly encourages parents to also obtain professional clinical support from a DIRFloortime provider. You can search for providers HERE or access the Home Program.

A parent commented on the ICDL DIR 431 course yesterday which was presented by Occupational Therapists about Motor Functioning and Affect, and Neurodevelopmental movements. The parent came away feeling discouraged because they were describing all the motor movements that an infant should do by certain ages and it made them feel that they failed since they didn’t work on that with their child who is now around age 9. Another parent shared their story of diagnosis and still figuring out other medical conditions with their child and how overwhelming it all is.

I spent some time describing that Floortime is a process, reassured participants that they’re doing the right thing by supporting their child with Floortime and that grief is a normal process that we go through as parents. Here are some blog/podcasts about this topic that were helpful to many:

A newcomer asked about the DIR Home Program and about those new to Floortime. Another parent shared how helpful it’s been for them and the progress they’ve seen. The parent explained how at first they didn’t understand the process because it was just play but how they now understand there’s a method to the play they were using. I suggested that yes, you can take DIR 101. It is an intro to what DIR/Floortime is all about. There is a discount code here. But I also suggested browsing the beginning links on the Start Here page. I suggested taking your time and assimilating a little bit each week. Floortime is a process and a journey for our kids, but for us as well. Take your time. 

A parent was told her child was being selfish because he wasn’t participating. Another was told they will be fined because their kid isn’t attending virtual school even though they can’t sit still and attend. The parent advocates and is taking notes and recording and has talked with the school a zillion times to advocate but they continually let them down. The teacher yelled at her kid over virtual to sit up, which made them realize the teacher probably does that at school, too! This parent asked if they could use the sensory processing checklist to show the school. I said YES! Absolutely! Another parent said to look at SPAN which provides advocacy to help parents.

Here are the usual resources to check out:

If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me!

March 15, 2021

Just a reminder about our parent support meeting:

  • Everything said is confidential and we ask that there are no recordings;
  • This group is to share with and support fellow caregivers;
  • Starting in 2021, these sessions are for caregivers only, but we will have a guest DIR Expert Training Leader with us the first Monday of each month to support us if anyone has questions or would like this additional support;
  • This is not a clinical treatment program. This is a parent-led support service. ICDL strongly encourages parents to also obtain professional clinical support from a DIRFloortime provider. You can search for providers HERE or access the Home Program.

A parent completed DIR 101 and shared that they had to look at affectautism.com to find out what motor planning was. We had a discussion about the affect diathesis hypothesis where Dr. Greenspan explained how affect isn’t connected with processing capacities/learning. It was the topic of my first blog post. A parent asked for a blog I have done on motor planning so I suggested the one I did with Occupational Therapist Maude Le Roux.

A parent shared their child started feeding therapy (as a follow-up to a previous week). Now that the child is settled in a preschool program and regulated, they decided it’s a good time to begin. Another parent shared that it really helped their child.

Another parent asked how to approach the topic of upcoming death of a family pet. A parent suggested the movie Coco. This parent said that it’s a movie about death the way that The Ant Bully movie is about bullying or Inside Out is about emotions, how you feel, and how brain works. We brought up The Lion King as well to approach death. I shared my son’s reaction and process to the news that the dog of a person we know passed on. I also mentioned it might be too vulnerable for the child to talk about feelings around death so you could use stuffed animals or characters as well as movies to broach the topic without putting the child on the spot. You could also make a photo book about the pet and talk about how much you love the pet and miss the pet, once they’re gone so the child knows it’s ok to feel sad and to try to remember the good memories with the pet.

A parent asked how to find practitioners in their area. I pointed them to the DIRectory under the Parents tab at ICDL.

A parent asked about a Floortime way to do deep pressure with their child because the self-regulation activities provided by the O.T. are being rejected by the child. We talked about being playful and ‘moving together’. How you could play music they like and ‘dance’ to it by doing the movements the O.T. suggested to the child then to yourself and see if they copy you. I suggested listening to two very recent podcasts I did with Occupational Therapists who describe these sensory issues so well:

Here are the usual resources to check out:

If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me!

March 8, 2021

Just a reminder about our parent support meeting:

  • Everything said is confidential and we ask that there are no recordings;
  • This group is to share with and support fellow caregivers;
  • Starting in 2021, these sessions are for caregivers only, but we will have a guest DIR Expert Training Leader with us the first Monday of each month to support us if anyone has questions or would like this additional support;
  • This is not a clinical treatment program. This is a parent-led support service. ICDL strongly encourages parents to also obtain professional clinical support from a DIRFloortime provider. You can search for providers HERE or access the Home Program.

A few parents commented on my NYC DIR Conference presentation last Friday available for viewing on my Patreon page, which is $5 USD per month to support my efforts of maintaining and improving Affect Autism as well as adding new content every week, including bonus content for Members. Much appreciation to those who have become members. 

One of our ESL parents is interested in translating DIR/F resources for parents in their native country and was asking about the P.L.A.Y. Project. If you do a search on this parents page (Alt-E, then F on a PC), you will find many instances where we spoke of PLAY Project in past meetings. Another parent who participated in it with their child expressed how helpful it was and how it allowed them to come into Floortime really understanding what it was about from what they learned from doing the PLAY Project, which is an application of DIR/Floortime that is organized into lessons and practices that are very good for beginning parents.

I mentioned that I see it as a stepping stone to Floortime because it focuses on young children (up to age 6) and focuses on the first 3 Functional Emotional Developmental Capacities of the DIR Model. Although it is a bit scripted and DIR/Floortime is not scripted, it really helps new parents understand the main principles of how to play with your child, follow their lead, let them be the director, etc. The parent mentioned that they love how DIR/Floortime really does allow for such creativity.

A parent asked about how to claim services on their taxes, which a few people talked about but it is different everywhere and you need to speak to your accountant. You can usually claim services if you receive DIR/Floortime from a licensed professional such as an O.T., an S.L.P, or a Psychologist, etc. but you have to speak with an accountant about it.

I reminded everyone that last week’s “homework” was to watch last week’s podcast with Keith Landherr about regulation and sensory integration. I shared that I just had a meeting with my son’s O.T. about his screaming during playing video games. The O.T. suggested he might be screaming to self-regulate, which I had not thought of before. She suggested it helps filter out auditory input as well as gives him proprioceptive input. She suggested turning down the video game volume, and taking breaks where he could do heavy work and move.

A parent shared that their child has a high tolerance for pain which becomes dangerous when the child pokes a pen into the side of their head and bangs their head on the wall. Another parent shared that a compression vest helped their child who did the same. Another used a weighted blanket and that stopped the child from bumping into the wall on purpose as they went to sleep. This child also will squeeze and scratch their hand and say OUCH to communicate that they need proprioceptive input. An O.T. mentioned to them that once the child is getting to the point of scratching themself, etc. it’s too late. Intervene before by preventatively giving sensory input. Last week, Jackie Bartell mentioned wearing tight under armour clothing a size too small to provide that input. Another parent uses a foam roller for massage that they purchased from Fun and Function. See my Sensory Lifestyle podcast.

Here are the usual resources to check out:

If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me!

March 1, 2021

Just a reminder about our parent support meeting:

  • Everything said is confidential and we ask that there are no recordings;
  • This group is to share with and support fellow caregivers;
  • Starting in 2021, these sessions are for caregivers only, but we will have a guest DIR Expert Training Leader with us the first Monday of each month to support us if anyone has questions or would like this additional support;
  • This is not a clinical treatment program. This is a parent-led support service. ICDL strongly encourages parents to also obtain professional clinical support from a DIRFloortime provider. You can search for providers HERE or access the Home Program.

Our guest DIR Expert Training Leader Jackie Bartell joined us today and so our first question was about how to get the school to use DIR with our children. Jackie said that it’s a lot to ask because they don’t understand it. She showed us the Learning Tree (from Dr. Greenspan’s last book):

Jackie suggested explaining that our kids need to have the roots and trunk before they can learn the branches (which is where the schools operate).

Another parent shared that they are in Florida for a vacation and the child is so much more regulated, communicating more, and finally attending virtual school from back home! It came up how much so many of our kids love the water and swimming! See the two podcasts on Floortime in the Pool and a Deeper Dive!

Another parent said they put a PVC pipe so their child can go underwater in the deep end and the child LOVES the input then they are regulated all day! Jackie says it helps them organize how to take in the other senses in the environment. It gives them the deep pressure into their body they are craving. Jackie says you can buy your kids tight-fitting spandex Under Armour shirts to give them deep pressure all day. Some parents do deep pressure massages before bed, or a long bath or shower and Jackie said when we are organized we are able to give off positive affect. She suggested seeing an occupational therapist about how best to help our own children and I recommended this week’s podcast on sensory integration as homework so we can discuss it next week!

A new parent has a few children and the one on the spectrum has progressed with ABA but now they are looking for the social piece. We suggested the Profectum Parent Toolbox, the  Start Here page here on Affect Autism (especially the Intro and Beginner and Guide sections at the beginning), and ICDL’s DIR 101 course (for which you can use PROMO CODE Affect18 to SAVE $25 on your tuition) that starts tomorrow! There’s also the DIR Institute and DIR Home Program at ICDL which is covered by Medicaid in NJ, but is affordable as well if you don’t have coverage.

A reminder that I will be presenting at the upcoming NYC DIR Conference THIS FRIDAY! I encourage you to attend as it’s only $40. You can see my presentation listed on the link.

For those affected: Holland Bloorview’s guide to funding options in Ontario, Canada

Here are the usual resources to check out:

If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me!

February 22, 2021

Thank you to Mike Fields for filling in for me 2 weeks ago!

Just a reminder about our parent support meeting:

  • Everything said is confidential and we ask that there are no recordings;
  • This group is to share with and support fellow caregivers;
  • Starting in 2021, these sessions are for caregivers only, but we will have a guest DIR Expert Training Leader with us the first Monday of each month to support us if anyone has questions or would like this additional support;
  • This is not a clinical treatment program. This is a parent-led support service. ICDL strongly encourages parents to also obtain professional clinical support from a DIRFloortime provider. You can search for providers HERE or access the Home Program.

After a week off for the holiday last week, we had a student observer join today for a paper she has to write on observing a parent group! She chose our group because she has worked in schools with autistic children. I hope we recruited a new Floortimer! She will share her report with me and for those interested we can take a minute to discuss it in 2 weeks.

I shared that I will be presenting at the upcoming NYC DIR Conference and encouraged parents to attend as it’s only $40. You can see my presentation listed on the link.

A parent shared that their child won’t sleep and it’s been hard. Luckily, they connected with a parent from this support meeting two weeks ago who helped out via email. This parent has found it challenging during quarantine with the children and no help to take a break, but on the bright side the child has been verbalizing in scripts. Another parent mentioned the book and movie Life Animated that is about autistic scripting to communicate.

This parent also shared that the child’s anger has been tough. The other parent let this parent know that the child may not understand even if everyone else does, thus their anger. This parent found that idea to be an eye opener and very helpful and so has tried to communicate back by understanding the child’s scripts, and it has worked well.

This parent would like to look into resources on the ICDL website. I suggested the Start Here page here on Affect Autism as well and here are a few suggestions on the ICDL site:

The parent was also told about the DIR Institute and DIR Home Program at ICDL which is covered by Medicaid in NJ.

I suggested the Stumbling blocks blog post for struggles with aggression/regulation and for this parent’s struggles with the school, I suggested asking Jackie Bartell next week (see below)!

I also suggested this week’s podcast about emotion-seeking and saying ‘no’. It’s a very helpful discussion!

A parent talked about their child not wanting anyone to watch what they’re watching on YouTube and not wanting others in the same room. I suggested Dr. Greenspan’s methods for “frustration tolerance” which is discussed here:

Pre-Linguistics are Pre-Social Abilities

Facilitating process-oriented learning with developmental level in mind: the just-right challenge

Slowing down and stretching out interactions

Another parent talked about parent guilt about not having done more when the child was younger and how they could be doing more now. Every other parent in the session echoed this awful feeling. Here are a few podcasts where this was discussed:

Avoiding the blame in Floortime

How a caregiver’s regulation affects the child’s regulation

From Ambiguous Loss to Acceptance

Parents Living with Grief About Their Special Needs Child

We also talked about how although we might regret things we didn’t start sooner, it is never too late. Gene Christian described this so nicely in this podcast.

Just a reminder that next week will be the first week of the month, which is our guest DIR Expert Training Leader week and our guest will be Jackie Bartell whom you can learn more about here:

Here are the usual resources to check out:

If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me!

February 1, 2021

Just a reminder about our parent support meeting:

  • Everything said is confidential and we ask that there are no recordings;
  • This group is to share with and support fellow caregivers;
  • Starting in 2021, these sessions are for caregivers only, but we will have a guest DIR Expert Training Leader with us the first Monday of each month to support us if anyone has questions or would like this additional support;
  • This is not a clinical treatment program. This is a parent-led support service. ICDL strongly encourages parents to also obtain professional clinical support from a DIRFloortime provider. You can search for providers HERE or access the Home Program.

For the new participants joining today, we had some introductions. Being the first week of the month, it’s also our guest DIR Expert Training Leader week and our guest today was Bridget Palmer, speech and language therapist in Buffalo and her grad student shadow Shannon Wilk.

One caregiver shared that they’ve noticed a big difference in their videos from a year ago. They didn’t see much interaction before and now they are seeing lots of back-and-forth interaction between parent and child. Floortime coaching has helped. Yay!

A caregiver asked about food. They watched the DIR/Floortime conference presentation on playing with messy food and my podcast about FOODTIME and took from it to have no pressure, make eating enjoyable, and make it social but wondered if anyone else had suggestions. I added that the Foodtime podcast suggested giving children many choices and letting them play with food. Also, it may take many attempts before they eat a food. Another point made was to let older children help plan their meals and days for treats, etc. One thing that’s helped this family was putting a family-style portion of what the child likes at family dinner so the child sees there is something they like at dinner and witnesses the family sharing this meal together. Great idea!

Another parent has taken many food courses for both kids in general, and specifically for neurodiverse children. You can never really tell why they aren’t eating. It could be a fussiness or a sensory thing. One thing they learned that helped was to model eating in front of your kid. This parent was never eating with the child and would just eat leftovers when the child was done even though they sat with the child during meal time. The child can’t copy eating after you if you don’t model it.

Another caregiver said their child won’t chew and can only swallow, so eats mushy food. The child is not comfortable with it if it’s solid food. At least the child is getting all the nutrients because vegetables can be blended in the puree. Our guest Bridget offered that you’re having an emotional and a sensory experience with every bite of food. It can be very complicated. There is a developmental progression of feeding that starts with a suck-swallow response when they get nourishment with attachment during breastfeeding, she said. We move our tongue, jaw, etc. and do an up-and-down chew before we can rotate food with our tongue. You have to have control of your tongue first. It’s a gradual process. It takes time.

She offered trying puffs or soft cookies that dissolve and if the child isn’t interested in eating those, try to use the soft biscuit as a spoon alongside the usual spoon. You can playfully offer one spoon then the other and see if the child takes it and model eating it yourself. If that isn’t working, just let the child hold the cookie and play with it. You don’t want to force the ‘cookie spoon’ and lose the trust of the child though, so you can playfully introduce it slowly. Maybe once every few days at first. It may take many times before the child will accept. Some children don’t eat solid foods until age 6 or 7. Every child is different, but it’s great that the child is at least touching food, as reported by the parent. Bridget said to give yourself permission to go at the child’s pace and let them lead/choose what they want, always.

Another caregiver had a question about speech with a 20-month-old who just started babbling a few sounds and had a tongue tie and lip tie when born. The child was pretty silent until the past few weeks. Bridget asked and the parent said that the child is using the sounds meaningfully rather than just to babble and points when they want something, and has a good back-and-forth interaction. Bridget suggested practicing making sounds and seeing if the child joins in (e.g., lots of “Oooo… ahhh” and “D-d-d-d-down“, “woo-woof woof” if you see a dog, and making silly sounds when brushing teeth, etc.)

Bridget said that every child goes at their own pace, so they might be building other skills and these skills that parents are concerned about will come later. While Dr. Greenspan would say, “Word-Affect-Action”, Bridget prefers “Words-Sounds-Affect-Action” because we want them to play with sounds and their mouths making sounds.

A caregiver pointed out that their child had only a few words and recently started saying a word they taught him for many months that the child finally just said. I pointed out that sometimes we think our children didn’t learn something but then they surprise us months later! We have to assume they are taking in everything.

Another caregiver asked if Bridget had recommendations for how to introduce an Augmentative and Alternative Communication device (AAC) in a Floortime way. Bridget said that you want to be a  communication partner with your child. Look at what vocab they have. What do you want them to produce? Model the use of the AAC device such as pressing the “Hi!” button then saying, “Hi!“. Model, join, and participate. The caregiver currently has a Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) so Bridget suggested pairing the new device with the PECS as a bridge between communication systems which expands what the child knows.

We pointed out a good resource: Joleen Fernald in Florida who presented at the DIR/Floortime conference in November and explained that it can take up to a year to use a new device, just like it takes a long time for a child to learn to speak. Doing this in a Floortime manner is doing it with you, the parent, and with emotion. Let the child know that you’ll be doing it together and you’re learning it, too, Bridget suggests.

Here are the usual resources to check out:

Thank you to Bridget and Shannon for being our guests and thank you, caregivers, for your attendance! If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me!

January 25, 2021

Today to start I went over a few important reminders and a couple of new details:

  • Everything said is confidential and we ask that there are no recordings;
  • This group is to share with and support fellow caregivers;
  • Starting in 2021, these sessions are for caregivers only, but we will have a guest DIR Expert Training Leader with us the first Monday of each month to support us if anyone has questions or would like this additional support;
  • This is not a clinical treatment program. This is a parent-led support service. ICDL strongly encourages parents to also obtain professional clinical support from a DIRFloortime provider. You can search for providers HERE or access the Home Program.

For the new participants joining today, we had some introductions and I gave a tour of this website.

First, a parent shared their frustration with their child being let down by services and school systems which we discussed for awhile. The ‘R’, or relationship is the most important piece, and if you have revolving doors of services and therapists, it makes it really difficult to form a relationship with the child and family. We mentioned two DIR/Floortime schools: the Rebecca School and Celebrate the Children in the NY/NJ area. Another parent offered that not only are schools failing our children, but since the pandemic they are now not working for typical kids either! They are just focused on scores, not on the human factor. This coming week’s podcast here will be about this topic with Dr. Gil Tippy! Stay tuned!

Another parent wondered how much benefit Occupational Therapy (O.T.) for once/week does and is it worth the cost if it’s out-of-pocket expenses. I shared that ideally, DIR/Floortime is a multidisciplinary team approach where everyone working with the child is on the same page. If it’s a one-off, at least you can get tips from the O.T. on how to implement their suggestions each day with your child. If the child enjoys it and it becomes a weekly event that lasts, the child might enjoy the relationship with the O.T.

Another parent asked if 20 minutes of Floortime per day in the evening even if it is the best is enough to combat a wounding 8 hrs/day at a less-than-ideal school. We talked again about the ‘R’ being the most important piece and if the child has that safe place to retreat to each evening it’s a safety zone for them and it’s important to give them that, and share joy by having fun moments together as much as possible. This can be hard if they are venting with behaviours from their tough day. We have to try to understand and not blame them and be there for them as their safety net.

This brought up self-care for us as caregivers. How do we handle our own frustration and take care of ourselves? I started a ‘ritual’ in our group last week that I’d share something I did for myself that made me feel good. Last week, I wore a new necklace I got that made me feel good. Today, I brought a Snickers bar that I was looking forward to enjoying. It’s something little, but we need to take moments to feel good. On a more serious note, another person said their spirituality helps them and another said they started attending church to have time to reflect and feel grateful.

We discussed trying to feel grateful for what we do have and see in our children that make us happy, and how things could always be worse and to remember to feel grateful, even in the hardest moments. Some parents shared how they are enjoying moments of happiness when they notice what their child does now that they couldn’t do when they were younger. I commented that a transformation occurs at some point where we stop trying to change or ‘heal’ our child and are focused on all the therapies and learn to accept our child and enjoy them for who they are. It took me about four or more years, myself.

In terms of helping ourselves when we are frustrated, here are a few blog/podcasts about our own regulation:

Someone asked about ADHD blogs here. I don’t have any but Occupational Therapist and DIR Expert Training Leader Maude Le Roux does.

Another caregiver expressed great difficulty getting accommodation from work due to lack of sleep because of their child and anxiety. The workplace was not at all understanding nor empathetic.

Here are the usual resources to check out:

Thank you for your attendance! If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me! Next week is the first week of February which is our DIR Expert Training Leader week and our guest will be Bridget Palmer and her graduate student shadow.

January 18, 2021

Today was the first session back in 2021 and I went over a few important reminders and a couple of new details:

  • Everything said is confidential and we ask that there are no recordings;
  • This group is to share with and support fellow caregivers;
  • Starting in 2021, these sessions are for caregivers only, but we will have a guest DIR Expert Training Leader with us the first Monday of each month to support us if anyone has questions or would like this additional support;
  • This is not a clinical treatment program. This is a parent-led support service. ICDL strongly encourages parents to also obtain professional clinical support from a DIRFloortime provider. You can search for providers HERE or access the Home Program.

For the new participants joining today, we had some introductions and I gave a tour of this website and the ICDL parent page and announced tomorrow night’s free intro to the DIR home program and the Virtual Support Consultation.

I shared a couple of old blogs of mine that I thought help with implementing DIR on your own:

Based on questions and comments from caregivers in the group, I suggested these two blogs:

I also shared an upcoming training (starting TONIGHT) that was really helpful for our son for about five years until we moved. I am considering signing up to revisit. The sessions are all recorded and you can attend either time zone and flip from one to another if the schedule suits you. It’s best to attend live with your child to get the most of the direct virtual coaching for your individual situation. Here is their YouTube channel so you can see the types of movements they do with special needs populations that are so beneficial to physical development, co-ordination, balance, and motor planning.

We also shared experiences of struggling with choosing a relationship-based approach when what is funded and offered and available is a behavioural approach, which in some cases might be better than nothing for some things. We also laughed about how we can discuss poop incidents with each other but not with other friends and parent groups. This group is a supportive place! One parent celebrated that their own butt is the only butt they’ve wiped in the last year as their child is finally toilet trained! Haha!

Here are the usual resources to check out:

Thank you for your attendance! If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me!

January 11, 2021

Today was the first session back in 2021 and I went over a few important reminders and a couple of new details:

  • Everything said is confidential and we ask that there are no recordings;
  • This group is to share with and support fellow caregivers;
  • Starting in 2021, these sessions are for caregivers only, but we will have a guest DIR Expert Training Leader with us the first Monday of each month to support us if anyone has questions or would like this additional support;
  • This is not a clinical treatment program. This is a parent-led support service. ICDL strongly encourages parents to also obtain professional clinical support from a DIRFloortime provider. You can search for providers HERE or access the Home Program.

For the new participants joining today, we had some introductions and I briefly discussed the difference between other approaches and Floortime.

One caregiver shared that the pandemic has been an oddly healing time during which they’ve focused on understanding where their child is, who the child is, and what the child needs. They heard of Floortime through the TILT podcast interviewing DIR practitioner Sherri Cawn in Chicago. Since then they’ve been going slowly and taking each day as it comes.

Another caregiver discussed how challenging and difficult the process has been since the autism diagnosis and it led to a conversation around ambiguous loss and grief. I recommended my podcast with psychologist, Dr. Robert Naseef, who also does a Dads support group and a has a helpful blog. Another caregiver provided another resource about grief from Eileen Devine. I also alerted folks to my Grief Recovery Method service that recently became available for online support.

I shared a wonderful YouTube channel and website Special Books by Special Kids which features children with various differences and is hosted by a natural Floortimer, although Floortime is never mentioned! In the video about his partner’s mental illness diagnoses, I mentioned how they talked about there being tough moments in every day and also joy, which I felt was similar in our lives parenting our kids. He also has videos with autistic children that are great.

I also shared a recent email from Dr. Robert Naseef’s mailing list with tips for talking to kids about the violence in Washington D.C.

A caregiver in NJ has qualified for Medicaid and is seeking Floortime services. I mentioned ICDL’s DIR Institute and Home Program that one can use Medicaid for.

A caregiver in OH wondered how to navigate the autism grants that are offered for kids as the government website is so complicated. Some parents offered tips of finding parent advocates in your area and contacting school boards. There is a lot of frustration with finding appropriate services for our kids!

Here are the usual resources to check out:

Thank you for your attendance! If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me!

December 14, 2020

Today we were joined by Expert Training Leader, Bridget Palmer as well as a new school professional checking out what Floortime is all about to support the parents of students in her class.

For the new participants joining today, we briefly discussed why we chose Floortime. I suggested the DIR 101 course at ICDL (which you can get a discount for at this page), and my Start Here link on this page.

One mother shared that her son gets super jealous when her husband hugs and kisses her good-bye when leaving for work. I shared that my son still does the same–tries to push Dad away from me if he hugs me or lays down next to me. Another participant shared that their child does the same when grandpa hugs his mother! Bridget shared that her neurotypical niece did the same when she hugged her sister, the niece’s mother! This is a stage of development where children are exploring their emotions and we want to respect all of our children’s emotions! We can mirror the child’s emotional state by exclaming softly, “Oh! You don’t like when Dada hugs Mama! Mama is mine!

Bridget shared a few resources:

A participant wondered about their child making up stories about a guy he sees at church. Some of the stories involve him jumping off a roof and startling things. We discussed how the child is using strong emotional experiences to express what he’s feeling and is creating a story, which is the fifth functional emotional developmental capacity. We want to encourage this creativity, rather than shut it down by saying, “No, that’s not true“, etc. We can instead say things like, “I love how you’re coming up with a story…what a great imagination!” The child is exploring fantasty versus reality. The caregiver could spend time creating a story book about things that happen.

We discussed how important it is to invite what’s uncomfortable to us and stay in the story with the child. We can say, “Oh no! Then what? Wow, tell me more. That happened?! Really?! Tell me more!” to keep the story going, then you learn about your child. This is just a story–it’s not reality. Treat it as play. The child is playing it out with their safest relationship, their primary caregiver.

A parent suggested it’s similar to when a child is scripting because it’s predictable and safe and offers control so the interaction feels safer to the child. Bridget pointed out that we can control so little in the pandemic, so our kids must feel that need for control even more and what a wonderful ability to have something that helps you feel in control. We’re all looking for control and comfort, but amplify that during the pandemic, and amplify that again when our kids are neurodiverse.

Here are the usual resources to check out:

Thank you for your attendance! If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me!

December 7, 2020

Back at our usual weekly time at 1:00 PM Eastern, we were joined by Expert Training Leader, Bridget Palmer again.

A parent asked about managing school and Floortime especially when nobody at their child’s school knows Floortime and when the parent themself doesn’t feel they are knowledgeable enough about doing Floortime well. I shared how I assimilated Floortime bit-by-bit, as I shared in my Biggest revelations from being a Floortime parent presentation at the recent ICDL conference. I suggested going to the Start Here link at this site and really focus on the Beginner sections that start with the All About Affect blog. Really try to understand and assimilate what that means to get into a back-and-forth reciprocal affective interaction with your child that lasts and lasts and lasts and lasts. How to get it to last? There are many blogs and podcasts about how to do that in the Techniques section at the Start Here link.

Next, go to the ‘D’ blog post in that beginner section. Do you really understand where your child is developmentally and how to meet them there every time you interact with them? What about the ‘I’? Do you understand your child’s sensory processing profile and your own? Really grasping even just these three concepts I’d say is the entire learning about Floortime. It’s what is most important and I suggested listening to the podcast with Gene Christian about preverbal affective signalling (and Mary Beth Stark’s podcast about Pre-linguistics).

I suggested that having a weekly DIR coach can provide tremendous learning to help you learn how to implement Floortime, whether it’s through the DIR Institute Home Program that offers a free initial consultation, or with a local DIR coach.

The parent also asked about doing Floortime with older kids and there are blogs on this site about that:

We talked about what preverbal affective signalling looks like. Bridget gave the example of a mother and son who did at least a two minute back-and-forth about the dinosaur chicken nuggets the child was eating. The mother made a scared look with her hands up making a scared noise and said, “Dinosaur!” The child responded by going, “Rowwwwr!” and this continued. There were no words, just some silly fun around being scared of dinosaurs and the child teasing the mother with the scary dinosaur chicken nugget.  The podcast I linked to above with Gene Christian explains why these interactions are so important and why Dr. Greenspan stressed that this is the key to development.

Another participant asked about a point made during a different ICDL conference presentation where the presenter spoke about genuine affect and instructed us not to be ‘the clown’. Bridget and I responded that sometimes people learning Floortime can be overly dramatic and over-the-top with their gestures, facial expressions, and volume of their voice (to the point that it’s anxiety-provoking) without any consideration to the child they’re doing Floortime with.

Floortime instead is about attuning to the person you’re doing Floortime with and matching your affect to their profile. They guide how you use your affect. Use your words to guide your affect to your action: WAA, Bridget said. So if a child is very hyperactive and upregulated, you come in slow and quiet with exaggerated gestures and facial expression that is quiet and calm and slow. If a child is underaroused, you might increase the volume and energy. And always be authentic and genuine in your affect. If you feel ridiculous doing it, don’t do it. You need to find how and where you can be playful for that genuine affect to come across to your child so you can share joy together.

A couple of caregivers identified as being on the spectrum themselves and said that they find affect difficult to do with their child. They asked other autistic adults why is it anxiety provoking to see big emotion/affect? They said it’s because they don’t know how to react and don’t know what the effect on others will be when they do react. This parent said that the key for them to use affect with their own child was more about waiting intensely. That means using big facial expressions quietly and waiting like Dr. Tippy talks about in the For on the Floor videos linked to below.

Here are the usual resources to check out:

Thank you for your attendance! If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me!

December 3, 2020

Continuing with our alternative schedule due to the ICDL DIR/Floortime Conference, we met at 12:00 PM Eastern today. We will resume with our usual time next Monday at 1:00 PM Eastern.

We reminisced about our favourite presentations from the ICDL virtual conference which included Dr. Gil Tippy’s on Good Education and Sibylle Janert’s What’s in a Box. I mentioned wanting to do future podcasts with them. We then talked a bit about my own presentation which can now be viewed on my Patreon account for Members.

We had a few caregivers asking about practitioners in their area and mentioned the DIRectory to find DIR/Floortime practitioners. I also pointed out that the DIR Institute has a wonderful Home Program for virtual weekly coaching. They offer a free initial consultation.

There was some more discussion about ABA and DIR being so different. I suggested the video of Dr. Greenspan talking about the progression from ABA to DIR and the general move towards developmental approaches.

One of our caregivers who missed a few weeks of our group reported improved connection with their child by participating with the child in the child’s preferred activity. They are “letting it happen in time” and noticing the child is now much more trusting with them. We talked about Dr. Kathy Platzman‘s ‘pennies in the bank’ example. The caregiver has also been exercising daily to feel better and able to be there for their child. This caregiver also said they are having the intention to do a bit better than yesterday, each day. Love it!

Another parent’s weekly intervention ended
so they miss that and are concerned now that their child is in school because they want to keep in touch with the therapists and know what is happening during the day. I mentioned that Colette Ryan and I discussed just the other day doing a podcast about creating a document about your child you can give to school and to therapists with your child’s individual differences, their cues that they communicate with, and other helpful details. Someone said this is called a child’s passport or school passport. Stay tuned for that podcast!

Here are the usual resources to check out:

Thank you for your attendance! If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me!

November 23, 2020

Continuing with our alternative schedule due to the ICDL DIR/Floortime Conference, we met at 3:00 PM Eastern today. DIR-Expert Training Leader Bridget Palmer joined us.

A parent from Atlanta joined so we mentioned Floortime Atlanta and the podcasts I did with Floortimers who work there:

Another parent asked about Floortime resources in Toronto public schools, which I didn’t know about but I did share that my son went to Yes I Can! nursery school which was very attentive and that Ellen Yack & Associates is a great Occupational Therapy services provider.

A parent shared that their child has now been engaging with them for first time a lot more purposefully as the parent comes into a more natural way of being and that DIR/Floortime parent coaching has really helped. Another caregiver shared that the DIR Home Program has really been great.

Another parent found Dr. Stanley Greenspan’s web radio shows and has found them extremely valuable.

We discussed the ICDL virtual conference and how much we are enjoying it, including Emile Gouws’ presentation this morning about his life as an autistic who was non speaking until age 13.

We also discussed how great it is to see everyone at the conference so genuine and caring and dedicated to helping others. We also discussed how important it is to find the therapist you are comfortable with and how deciding on Floortime as your approach opens up that world. Then you can choose from within that world by seeing my podcasts, for instance, to see which Floortimers resonate with you the most, for instance.

The usual resources to check out:

You can show your support for Affect Autism through Patreon. Becoming a member allows you to see my Floortime videos and affords you special privileges to come. You can now submit questions for my upcoming podcasts as a Patron.

Thank you for your attendance! If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me! Hope to see you next Thursday at our temporary time of 12 noon Eastern Standard Time.

November 16, 2020

Continuing with our alternative schedule due to the ICDL DIR/Floortime Conference, we met at 12:00 noon Eastern today. I reminded caregivers about the conference, where you can watch presentations online throughout the month, including some recordings of ones you missed and their hand-outs where available, although it is encouraged to attend live, as per ICDL’s mandate of being interactive!

We began by discussing how we’re enjoying the ICDL virtual conference so far, which most of the attendees have been participating in. This lead us to a conversation about if our children are interacting with strangers. Some do, some don’t, and for some it depends on the situation.

I shared some of the great videos and panels from the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) Gala from the weekend and highly recommended that people check out the short film Loop by Pixar, the documentary Intelligent Lives, and the “Ask a Non-Autistic” panel. Absolutely fabulous!

A parent asked about the POND research day. This is an annual event in Toronto for those families who are a part of a study on autism. They present research all day. I’m not sure if you can watch if you are not a part of the study. It’s usually quite scientific. Another Toronto parent shared that the December Autism Summit is open to the public.

One caregiver followed up with a past celebration about the child being toilet trained. We had discussed possible regression in the future and to not get discouraged. Today the caregiver shared that there have been a few regressions and wondered if recording data around when each incident happened would be helpful: namely, what was the environment when the accident happened. We agreed it would be helpful, especially if the child is overwhelmed by sensory input and thus loses control of their bowels.

A caregiver shared that ABA was great for toilet training their child and another parent shared this link to a FREE ABA toilet training workshop coming up in February of next year.

The usual resources to check out:

You can show your support for Affect Autism through Patreon. Becoming a member allows you to see my Floortime videos and affords you special privileges to come. You can now submit questions for my upcoming podcasts as a Patron.

Thank you for your attendance! If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me! Hope to see you next Monday at our temporary time of 12 noon Eastern Standard Time.

Continuing with our alternative schedule due to the ICDL DIR/Floortime Conference, we met at 12:00 noon Eastern today. I reminded caregivers about the conference, where you can watch presentations online throughout the month, including some recordings of ones you missed and their hand-outs where available, although it is encouraged to attend live, as per ICDL’s mandate of being interactive!

We began by discussing how we’re enjoying the ICDL virtual conference so far, which most of the attendees have been participating in. This lead us to a conversation about if our children are interacting with strangers. Some do, some don’t, and for some it depends on the situation.

I shared some of the great videos and panels from the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) Gala from the weekend and highly recommended that people check out the short film Loop by Pixar, the documentary Intelligent Lives, and the “Ask a Non-Autistic” panel. Absolutely fabulous!

A parent asked about the POND research day. This is an annual event in Toronto for those families who are a part of a study on autism. They present research all day. I’m not sure if you can watch if you are not a part of the study. It’s usually quite scientific. Another Toronto parent shared that the December Autism Summit is open to the public.

One caregiver followed up with a past celebration about the child being toilet trained. We had discussed possible regression in the future and to not get discouraged. Today the caregiver shared that there have been a few regressions and wondered if recording data around when each incident happened would be helpful: namely, what was the environment when the accident happened. We agreed it would be helpful, especially if the child is overwhelmed by sensory input and thus loses control of their bowels.

A caregiver shared that ABA was great for toilet training their child and another parent shared this link to a FREE ABA toilet training workshop coming up in February of next year.

The usual resources to check out:

You can show your support for Affect Autism through Patreon. Becoming a member allows you to see my Floortime videos and affords you special privileges to come. You can now submit questions for my upcoming podcasts as a Patron.

Thank you for your attendance! If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me! Hope to see you next Monday at our temporary time of 3:00 PM Eastern Standard Time.

November 9, 2020

Continuing with our alternative schedule due to the ICDL DIR/Floortime Conference, we met at 3pm Eastern today. I reminded caregivers about the conference, where you can watch presentations online throughout the month, including some recordings of ones you missed where available, although it is encouraged to attend live, as per ICDL’s mandate of being interactive!

One of the caregivers is strongly considering homeschooling because since school started up again after the shut down, the child’s behavioural outbursts are returning. The parent is overwhelmed about how to go about this. We discussed focusing on those first three early social-emotional capacities of just being able to have fun together with engagement and reciprocity. This parent very much appreciated Joleen Fernald‘s presentation on AAC devices at the ICDL conference–especially the reminder that it takes a good year for neurotypical children to begin speaking from the first word, so we can’t expect our children to learn to communicate on an AAC device immediately.

We discussed considering DIR/Floortime home coaching weekly or biweekly in which the parent video tapes themselves playing with their child and goes over the videos with a coach who can guide the Floortime along until the parent feels comfortable. I had a number of suggested podcasts that the parent would find very helpful:

Three other resources that might help are Dr. Stanley Greenspan’s Web Radio Shows, the P.L.A.Y. Project’s introductory course which is currently being offered for free, and the Profectum Parent Toolbox.

I also reminded parents to attend the 2nd presenting of both mine and Bridget Palmer’s ICDL presentations in the coming days at the ICDL DIR/Floortime Conference which show video examples of Floortime and will really help solidify understanding of the DIR Model and its application. The conference is only $49 for parents and there are multiple presentations per day for the rest of the month. Highly recommended!

We also talked about the self-reflection piece and how important it is to review videos of you and your child to become more aware of how you can support your child.

One caregiver brought up a great presentation about DIR vs. ABA by researcher Devin Casenhiser.

The usual resources to check out:

You can show your support for Affect Autism through Patreon. Becoming a member allows you to see my Floortime videos and affords you special privileges to come. You can now submit questions for my upcoming podcasts as a Patron.

Thank you for your attendance! If you have any questions about the notes or suggestions for next time, feel free to email me! Hope to see you next Monday at our temporary time of 12 noon Eastern Standard Time.

November 2, 2020

Today we had a later start time, following Dr. Gil Tippy‘s mind-blowing opening presentation of the 24th ICDL DIR/Floortime Conference. If you missed it, he will present the same talk again later this month on the 19th at 8pm E.S.T. Please consider signing up to hear any or all of the numerous presentations that began today and run throughout the month of November. Can any top Dr. Tippy’s? We will see…

I let everyone know I have a new podcast up with Bridget Palmer about parent support groups. I also let everyone know about an upcoming FREE webinar from Maude Le Roux’s Academy on Financial Planning for Special Needs. I said it’s likely only relevant for Americans and that there are many similar services in Ontario and if anyone needs me to point them in that direction, check out Partners for Planning.

A participant asked about combining ABA and DIR approaches. One parent mentioned that perhaps ABA could lead to greater success for toilet training, for instance. But that parent’s child also told them that ABA made them feel like a dog because they just had to follow a response whereas Floortime encourages the child to be involved with the idea of how to address issues and that Floortime encourages more input from the child and involves more trust and working together–and that that trust between them has been hurt because of ABA.

I gave my thoughts about it:

  1. Self-advocates across the board seem to be opposed to ABA although Temple Grandin does recommend ABA. It really does boil down to having a good therapist in many cases. The roots of ABA are truly awful but most ABA today doesn’t operate in the way it was designed because it wouldn’t be ethical.
  2. Dr. Tippy has a 5-part ABA Detox series on YouTube (although part 1 seems to be missing); he points out that ABA doesn’t inspire a child to think, only to follow instructions. Here are a couple more videos where he discusses ABA.
  3. Dr. Greenspan talked about the components of the DIR/Floortime practice: Floortime, unstructured and structured sessions where the structured were more like ABA, but we always follow the child’s lead–their emotional interest. Dr. Joshua Feder who will be speaking at ICDL’s conference as well has worked with ABA colleagues trying to incorporate ABA with DIR in order to not keep divisions.
  4. ABA is really targeting children who are beyond the first three functional emotional developmental capacities so not even appropriate for young children.

We talked about DIR being a strengths-based approach and how we can find the strengths in each approach and what works well for each family. We all want the best for our child and are all doing our best. It just hurts everyone involved if we get into the us versus them battle. Bridget Palmer suggested that we know what the IMPLEMENTATION of the DIR or ABA program will look like. Is that therapist connected to your child or not? If they want to condition your child to condition behaviours, that would be a red flag for her. Or is the therapist saying, “How can we do this together?

She also pointed out that ABA therapists may have ZERO training in development. They only learn operant conditioning. That doesn’t mean that some ABA therapists haven’t also trained in development. But also beware that speech/communication does NOT develop by operant conditioning. Pre-verbal communication is essential.

Self advocate Ido Kedar’s website is a great one to look at, Bridget suggested, as he found ABA was not at all helpful for him.

Like Eunice Lee said, we need to respect other professionals and listen to parents. Please also see the discussion with Dr. Kathy Platzman about parent guilt and how we do what we can with what we know at the time.

The usual resources to check out:

You can show your support for Affect Autism through Patreon. Becoming a member allows you to see my Floortime videos and affords you special privileges to come. You can now submit questions for my upcoming podcasts as a Patron.

Thank you for your attendance, and hope to see you next Monday, again at our temporary time of 3:00pm Eastern Standard Time.

October 26, 2020

We had DIR Expert Training Leader Bridget Palmer join us again in facilitating today’s session.

We first spoke about the developmental optometrist (versus an opthamologist) and how an occupational therapist can guide you to one. Their role is to determine how your child sees and uses their eyes. We go to Dr. Angela Peddle in the Toronto area (you will see her presenting in the YouTube link on that website).

Bridget added that a few adult autistics have written books and shared experiences about how their vision works:

Bridget says you can see if your child moves things fast/slow by their eyes or puts things in different places. Let’s be the experts on what our children do, how they behave around vision and what you think they’re seeing and why you think they’re doing things. 

She also noted how the visual system and vestibular system (inner ear) are paired (like when you see a car moving beside you and feel like you’re moving when you’re in park). Podcasts I’ve done with Maude Le Roux and Virginia Spielman refer to these systems.

A couple of parents asked what to do and how to join in when their children spin or look out of the corner of their eyes. Bridget suggested joining them and seeing what it feels like to you to understand what they’re getting out of it.

We also talked about how important it is to advocate for our children if professionals are encouraging us to stop or discourage these behaviours in our children. Many adult autistics describe these experiences as highly pleasurable and regulating and the distress they felt when people tried to stop it in them. 

Another parent expressed concerns about a pre-teen who is developmentally younger, whom they find challenging to monitor and keep safe, including trying to keep them doing online schooling during the pandemic or keeping their attention. I suggested that you can’t expect a 12-year-old who is developmentally 5 or 6 to be like a 12-year old. We have to review the functional emotional developmental capacities and meet them where they are developmentally. Go through that FEDC basic checklist that’s in that last link and determine your child’s developmental capacities then just continue to focus on those earliest capacities until they are robust! Check out the Stumbling blocks posts to focus on each capacity. (At the bottom of that post you can go to the next post through all 6 early developmental capacities). Also never forget to spend more time being, not doing! Use lots of affect and comment rather than asking questions or giving instructions or directions. 

The usual resources to check out:

You can show your support for Affect Autism through Patreon. You can now submit questions for my upcoming podcasts as a Patron. The upcoming podcast schedule is listed there.

October 19, 2020

Today we celebrations, potty training readiness, Dr. Robert Naseef, the upcoming ICDL conference, and I provided reminders of some other resources.

A caregiver mentioned how happy they were to have their spouse back after grandmother had left and they were alone with their child for a number of days. We discussed how some of our kids really demand our attention so often that we can’t even go to the bathroom or shower in private. They mentioned that we have to take care of ourselves too because we are in this for the long haul: years. We shared some stories. I joked that people erroneously say that autistic kids aren’t social. They are so social! They want us to play with them and be with them all the time!

A caregiver mentioned how much they enjoyed my podcast with Dr. Robert Naseef. I mentioned I’m recording another podcast with him in a couple weeks that will be published in November and if anyone has questions for me to ask him, just let me know next Monday (or email me). I mentioned that he recently did a fabulous webinar with this group, although I don’t see a recording of it anywhere on their website.

I pointed out some great resources:

The usual resources to check out:

You can show your support for Affect Autism through Patreon. You can now submit questions for my upcoming podcasts as a Patron. The upcoming podcast schedule is listed there.

October 15, 2020

Today we discussed advocacy, IEPs, and engaging children in higher capacities!

A caregiver asked about how to get DIR/Floortime funded in their province of Quebec. I discussed the process I did to try in Ontario:

  • We were in contact with people who got DIR/Floortime put in the government policy report in British Columbia who said just promote what DIR/Floortime does (rather than bash ABA)
  • Started autismDATA.org website where I put out bulletins on a regular basis (and am way overdue for another) about all that’s happening in the DIR world (research, education, practice, etc.)
  • I made a list of anyone and everyone in Ontario who would have anything to do with autism (hospitals, clinics, government policy makers, MP, MPP, SLP provincial organization, O.T. board, pediatricians, university researchers, etc.) and emailed them about autismDATA.org with notification of the first bulletin and asked them if they want to subscribe; many did
  • Meanwhile, I found out who to contact working on the autism policy and emailed them as well about why they should include DIR/Floortime in their autism strategy and kept them in the loop everytime I put out a new bulletin
  • Cindy Harrison is a DIR expert who got the P.L.A.Y. Project included in Ontario’s new autism program and is on the advisory panel to the government in Ontario about autism strategy
  • Met regularly with Jehan Shehata-Aboubakr about how to advocate and sent emails to every DIR/Floortime ICDL trained practitioner in Ontario and asked them to send a message to their MPP (Member of Provincial Parliament)
  • Jehan and I sent emails to the SLP and OT boards urging them to comment on Ontario’s autism policy, imploring them to include PARENT CHOICE (that includes developmental approaches) rather than just a behavioural strategy
  • We have a Canadian Advocacy mail list serve through ICDL and a general advocacy one, as well (plus one for research) so we were in touch with those advocating across Canada and the U.S. to get ideas

We talked about the above points being things parents who want to support the cause can help with going forward!

Next we talked about our goals for Individualized Education Plans (IEP). I emphasized forming a good Relationship with the school team so they are more willing to comply with your requests. Bridget Palmer, DIR Expert who joined us also added that parents need to describe the specific Floortime strategies that they want to be using, and have them written into their plan such as points like you want them to pause so your child expresses themselves. You get to have this written into your education plan and it must be followed because it’s a legal document. Parents and grandparents are the most important people on the team! Bridget and I committed to doing a podcast about exact phrases parents can include in their children’s IEPs to incorporate DIR goals, to follow-up from the podcast with Jackie Bartell.

A parent wondered what to do with a child who is verbal and can carry a conversation but who gets frustrated easily and can tune out or tantrum. I brought up examples that Dr. Tippy has brought up in presentations I’ve seen where sometimes to get the ‘gleam in the eye’ at FEDC 2, you need to come in at a higher level (4 or 5) where you talk about a subject very dear to the child and challenge them on why they feel the way they do about it, while being empathetic and supportive and encouraging, using commenting “Oh that’s really interesting that you think that. But why do you think that it’s important to do ___?” and “Oh that’s a great idea. You’re really smart to think about that.

Bridget suggested looking at ICDL’s website and reviewing the descriptions of the Functional Emotional Developmental Capacities. She said that you’re most important relationship with your child, so they practice their capacities with you! Our kids need our support; it’s hard work, so you as parents need a support system to do it over and over. Take advantage of this support group!

I also suggested reviewing my podcasts with Dr. Tippy who really is great about stressing why we need to get our children to think versus asking them questions about facts:

I mentioned that, like Jake Greenspan told me, some kids do have capacities at all six of the early levels, but their ‘tree trunk’ is narrow. We want to widen it across more situations and with more people.

Maude Le Roux has a course coming up about teenagers that might interest some of you. If you use the code daria30 you can get $30 off!

A few resources to check out:

You can show your support for Affect Autism through Patreon. You can now submit questions for my upcoming podcasts as a Patron. The upcoming podcast schedule is listed there.

October 4, 2020

We had a wonderful “Family and Relationships” theme today.

It started when a parent asked our thoughts on being around family without school and therapy services versus being away from family but getting therapy. My thoughts were that it depends on how accepting, loving and warm the family is versus having a stressful family environment. If the family is supportive, I’d choose that over ABA therapy any day, any day, any day. I mentioned Dr. Gordon Neufeld’s thoughts on how you don’t need socialization with peers for development and how those warm, hierarchical family attachments or Relationships in the DIR Model, are what is needed and peers can never provide unconditional love and support that

Our guest DIR Expert Bridget Palmer suggested asking yourself, “What are the goals for my child?” Is it a DIR/Floortime approach to create safe and loving relationships that promote developmental capacities or would there be therapists or therapies you would miss? If the latter, can they do tele-sessions remotely? What does your gut say? What are you leaning towards? Listen to that emotion that’s telling you what your priorities are. She also pointed us to the Profectum parent toolbox.

I also referred the fathers in our group to Psychologist Dr. Robert Naseef’s Dads support group and announced my upcoming podcast with him in early November.

Another parent asked how to foster a smile out of their child when dropping them off at the school bus stop because they can get the smiles other times, but despite efforts of being silly and fun, the child is not responding. Bridget asked when do they get that smile at home? The parent responded that the child loves tickles. The parent then also shared that yesterday the child came and sat next to them then tried to sit on the parent’s lap. This was a new step forward.

This had Bridget and I feeling warm fuzzies because it’s an indication that the Relationship between this parent and child is solidifying and the child is feeling safe and warm around this parent. This is a celebration! Bridget also pointed out that we saw the joy on the parent’s face while describing that this happened and about the tickles. So to continue on this path, Bridget suggested to this parent that they continue to bring the joy and silliness to the bus stop using anticipation and I offered, creating a fun ritual for the child to look forward to each day.

I brought in the concept of culture and rituals that psychologist Dr. Gordon Neufeld talks about. Many parents think they need to rush their children away and not think about it to make it easier, but in fact, the opposite fosters attachment–have your children hold on to you. You can put notes in their lunch when apart, a keepsake they can hold on to during the day, and Bridget suggested a laminated photograph on a binder ring attached to their bag.

This made me think of creating a family photo album for the parent who asked the first question. Creating the village through photos for your child can keep you connected to extended family while apart. It was a beautiful feeling discussion!

A few resources to check out:

You can show your support for Affect Autism through Patreon. You can now submit questions for my upcoming podcasts as a Patron. The upcoming podcast schedule is listed there.

***A reminder that there will be no support group next Monday due to Canadian Thanksgiving. INSTEAD WE WILL TRY NEXT THURSDAY AT 2PM EASTERN October 15th.***

September 28, 2020

Today we started with celebrations. One parent’s partner said that affect really works with their child! Woo hoo! Another parent has an appointment coming up next month with a developmental pediatrician regarding a diagnosis, thinking it would take a year! Woo hoo!

This parent expressed concern about the diagnosis saying that the distress is the uncertainty. Another parent said regardless, DIR is the right path–for any child, so they’re on the right path! Another parent pointed out that some parents can’t wait to get the diagnosis just to get access to services. I suggested the parent might benefit from this podcast with psychologist Robert Naseef.

A parent celebrated that their child is two grades above grade level in reading, but expresses worry about being worse in math. We talked about celebrating our strengths and the progress the child made from “feeling stupid” only a few years ago.

Another parent inquired about stimming. The parent’s child recites scripts from a favourite video so the parents stopped screen time. I mentioned the Repetition podcast and how our children will need to repeat processes before they move on. It may be a concern of ours when our children script or ‘stim’ but it’s not our child’s. Our child is giving us a window into what interests them.

Our DIR expert training leader Bridget Palmer joined us again as well and offered that this is the child’s sensory emotional experience that is exciting and meaningful to them. We can use this interest to connect. She brought up Dr. Barry Prizant’s Uniquely Human. You can even use this interest to co-regulate when the child is upset.

By focusing on their strengths and passions, you can do any number of activities: colouring books or reading books about this interest, playing with toys around this interest, starting conversations about preferences around this interest, describing colours of their preferences, what you like or dislike about the interests, etc. You can use this interest to connect with other children too and introduce your child as having this interest when having playdates or in school. 

Bridget said that Dr. Greenspan said that when our children stim, they are telling us what they want and the content of his mind, which we need to know. It’s how you share an emotional experience with your child.

What about the screen time? The child liked the videos of this special interest. We discussed limit setting and co-regulating. We all agreed that moderation is best. However, our children often have no concept of time and regardless of how long they have on their screen, they are inconsolable when we take it away.

I introduced Dr. Gordon Neufeld‘s concept of inviting the inevitable rather than avoiding distress. We say things like, “I’m going to turn off your screen in a minute. You’re not going to like it. You will probably scream and cry, but screen time is all done.” (Dr. Neufeld says being the ‘agent of futility’ while Dr. Greenspan called it having ‘rock solid resolve’). Then we empathize with them (Dr. Neufeld called this being the ‘angel of comfort’ while Dr. Greenspan described warmth and empathy).

We say things like, “Oh your show is ending. You really love it. This is hard.” When they get upset, they are letting us know their emotional state, and this is important!

Another parent brought up that their child wants a new iPhone to connect with one parent who works out of town. The other parent says no, the child says shut up and gets angry! Again, we want to use co-regulation. Bridget points out the celebrations: the child wants to connect with the parent who is away and did their homework then came to the other parent with logic. The parent responded with logic. It’s about the repair, Bridget says. The child might need to go away then come back. She suggested letting the child know you’re proud of what they did, in order to keep them in the moment with you. She also suggested browsing the old Dr. Greenspan webradio shows.

I shared a link of pandemic resources from Dr. Neufeld’s site.

Thank you to those of you who became members of Affect Autism through Patreon. You can now submit questions for my upcoming podcasts as a Patron. The upcoming podcast schedule is listed there. 

Please email me with preferences for the weekly online support besides 1pm Mondays. The options are 10am, 11am, 12 noon, 1pm, or 2pm Eastern time Tues, Wed, or Thursdays on some weeks of the month.

As always, take advantage of ICDL’s free consultations, Dr. Gil Tippy’s For on the Floor videos (video #11 came out this past weekend), and CEO Jeff’s blog. And on this website, check in with the latest ResourcesProducts (including discounts on ICDL DIR 101 and 201), and the Start Here link.

If there’s anything I missed or if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me at the Contact link above! ‘See’ you again next Monday.

September 21, 2020

We started out meeting saying hello to our new attendees, including a DIR expert training leader who joined as our guest because she runs a parent support group and wanted to experience our group. 

I introduced Affect Autism again for the new folks and reminded everyone out the Donnie Welch Poetry new virtual Open Art Studios on Saturdays. 

I thanked the parents who became members of Affect Autism through Patreon and announced that I will be adding a section where Patrons can ask submit questions for my upcoming podcasts. I asked for suggestions of what bonuses people would like for becoming a Patron for as low as $5/month. I also reviewed the other ways we can advocate (contact your representatives and say we need DIR/Floortime funded!) and support each other.

Our DIR expert training leader Bridget Palmer answered some parent questions. One parent asked how to interact with their child and she asked to give an example of what they do to have fun together. Bridget was pleased to point out that the parent’s example showed building connection, engagement, and reciprocity with the child. 

Another caregiver asked about a non speaking child. They gave examples of how the child points, grabs your hand to reach for snacks, lifts hand towards shelf, etc. Bridget pointed out that this child is communicating with gestures, eye gaze, facial expressions, etc., which comes before words

A parent asked what to do about a child who used to love the bath but now shows incredible fear at even the anticipation of a bath. The parent has tried many strategies including playing in the bathroom and tub without water, seeing parent bathe, putting a tiny bit of water only into the tub, using enticing lights, etc. Bridget suggested joining the child in the feeling of fear: “Oh no, it seems like something’s wrong with the bath.” Wonder with the child by talking about the bath during another time when the child is in a good mood, so the child sees that we understand and hears them. 

Another parent has a home-schooled 13-yr-old in a neurotypical Star Wars club online; he’s doing well but the parent is concerned because he doesn’t like that the kids keep interrupting. Bridget suggested talking to him about group and the experience at a time when they’re both comfortable and to plan together how he can deal with is, such as stepping away from group if upset, etc.

Please email me with preferences for the weekly online support besides 1pm Mondays. The options are 10am, 11am, 12 noon, 1pm, or 2pm Eastern time Tues, Wed, or Thursdays on some weeks of the month.

As always, take advantage of ICDL’s free consultations, Dr. Gil Tippy’s For on the Floor videos, and CEO Jeff’s blog. And on this website, check in with the latest ResourcesProducts (including discounts on ICDL DIR 101 and 201), and the Start Here link.

If there’s anything I missed or if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me at the Contact link above! ‘See’ you again next Monday.

September 14, 2020

We started out meeting a new parent joining us who recently took DIR 202 with Occupational Therapist and DIR Clinic owner Maude Le Roux. We talked about her work a bit.

I shared a flyer from Donnie Welch Poetry about his new virtual Open Art Studios on Saturdays. He saw the podcast on Online Schooling and Services and reached out to me.

A parent in Ontario, Canada asked about getting funding for services. I mentioned that I started AutismDATA.org to advocate for DIR services but I’m not an expert on getting funding. It’s also a challenge with every province in Canada and every state in the U.S.A. having different funding rules. I do know that The P.L.A.Y. Project (trainer Cindy Harrison), O.T. and S.L.P. services are apparently now all funded under the Ontario Autism Program, which is a start.

A parent asked how to best advocate for Floortime for your child? It’s difficult when everything is behaviourally-based. I suggest reviewing these two sources, along with research:

I shared a few resources:

I also gave a heads up about the upcoming virtual ICDL conference in November, where I will be presenting on parent issues.

A parent asked how they can support me in my efforts and advocacy. We broke this down into a few areas to develop going forward:

  • Helping me continue to provide the resources I do:
    • Become a member to have access to Floortime videos and other benefits which I’m still determining (please make suggestions!) or sign up for the DIR Home Program and ask for my support.
  • Parents using our own individual strengths to support each other (e.g., one parent can help me with my podcast technical woes because he has expertise in audio broadcasting online) as we are all at different stages. Those starting out with younger children need the most support and may not have extra time nor energy to help. Those further along are willing to give back and offer support.

A parent said that they were very grateful for my tips in helping them connect with their child and that they tend to think of it as one action step to work on at a time. We talked about the types of action step resources we can provide while keeping Floortime about being, not doing, and not making it about ‘instructions’ or ‘checklists’ which is against what Floortime is all about. The ICDL Basic Chart is a start, listing the capacities we work on in Floortime as our children move along developmentally.

As always, take advantage of ICDL’s free consultations, Dr. Gil Tippy’s For on the Floor videos, and CEO Jeff’s blog. And on this website, check in with the latest ResourcesProducts (including discounts on ICDL DIR 101 and 201), and the Start Here link.

If there’s anything I missed or if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me at the Contact link above! ‘See’ you again next Monday.

August 31, 2020

We started out by looking at the ICDL Parents site at the upcoming Mini-Seminar on Dads and DIR which is open to anyone–not just Dads. I also mentioned that more time slots have opened up for free consultations if you have not yet taken advantage of these coaching sessions.

I also pointed out that I have a new podcast up which gives a wonderful description of the early social-emotional Foundational Capacities we are working on with our children. You can review ICDL’s Basic Chart with the capacities HERE.

One parent talked about how their child cries often and they don’t know why. Sometimes it’s when the child wakes up. Other times, it’s more clear: the child cries to have access to the phone or screen time. We reviewed the Polyvagal podcast blog from last week about our children being in fight/flight and the co-regulating blog where I pointed people to watch the Jennifer Kalari video on her C.A.L.M. method in the box on that blog post.

One parent talked about how it’s hard to co-regulate when we ourselves are dysregulated! Here are a few blog posts about our own regulation:

I brought up the example from a blog post of how we had to give our child yucky medicine and he wouldn’t take it and how I had to do trial and error to co-regulate with him until I could get him to take his medicine.

Maude’s Meltdown Recipe can be purchased here (at the bottom) for those interested.

I also suggested looking up blogs of autistic self-advocates or following them on twitter. Some have great insights into why our children have outbursts because they went through them as children:

One of the parents just found a book The Reason I Jump by an autistic boy. Another parent said that the Self-reg.ca site helped a lot.

As always, take advantage of ICDL’s free consultations, free Thursday mini-seminars, Dr. Gil Tippy’s For on the Floor videos, and CEO Jeff’s blog. And on this website, check in with the latest Resources, Products (including discounts on ICDL DIR 101 and 201), and the Start Here link.

If there’s anything I missed or if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me at the Contact link above! 

August 24, 2020

This morning Zoom was down worldwide so I set up a Google Meet for our drop-in. It was fun to try something new! Thanks to everyone who came out!

One parent asked how to get the most out of her online Floortime virtual coaching. First, I suggested being frank with the coaches and say that the weeks seem to be flying by and that you feel like you aren’t getting enough out of it, if that’s how you feel. Next, I said make sure you film yourself with your child every week. I said not to worry about ‘what’s a good video’ because they just need to see how you typically interact with your child.

Another parent said to film what you want to work on and what you want feedback on. I also pointed out a number of posts on my website that could help get you started doing Floortime under the Start Here link. (I also pointed this link for our new participants to get an introduction to the DIR model and Floortime.) I suggested the Guide to Starting DIR/Floortime With Your Child, Adolescent, or Adult and the How to Overcome Obstacles in Floortime sections–especially the Stumbling Blocks blog posts. Also, I suggested the following ones too from the Floortime Techniques section:

We also discussed the latest podcast at length, Polyvagal Theory and Regulating our Bodily State.

As always, take advantage of ICDL’s free consultations, free Thursday mini-seminars, Dr. Gil Tippy’s For on the Floor videos, and CEO Jeff’s blog. And on this website, check in with the latest Resources, Products (including discounts on ICDL DIR 101 and 201), and the Start Here link.

If there’s anything I missed or if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me at the Contact link above! ‘See’ you again next Monday.

August 17, 2020

I decided not to send out the reminder email today in case people were sick of my emails, and since we all know it’s every Monday at 1pm. But when only two people showed up, I quickly sent out the email just after 1pm and a bunch of others came. I’ll resume sending the reminder emails an hour or so in advance! Haha…

Today we had caregivers of the following children:

  • 8 yr old boy
  • 6 yr old girl
  • 3 yr old boy
  • 12 yr old boy
  • 3 yr old girl
  • Preschool boy
  • 5 yr old boy
  • 2 yr old girl

One caregiver had expressed the child’s progress over the past four months and how the parents are so pleased and are really enjoying the interactions with their child. Then this past week, the child has been distressed again. They are frustrated. I tried to put the focus on empathy for the child. If the child is self-harming, they are distressed about something. Let’s try to show the child we care, we want to help them, and do all we can to keep the child safe and content (rather than feel annoyed at their whining or behavioural outbursts). It’s hard to do when the behaviour can get on our nerves or dysregulate us. We have to regroup ourselves and then be there for the child. The child is not being difficult on purpose.

One participant asked how to propose a DIR approach in ABA based classroom for their child? I suggested reviewing the school podcasts/posts I’ve done:

Some caregivers asked about the ‘intensives’ offered by DIR clinics. A Total Approach just outside of Philadelphia offers intensives where families can bring their child on the spectrum for 2 weeks and receive intensive Floortime sessions including occupational therapy, play, counselling, speech and language, etc. depending on the family’s needs. I suggested watching the Remediation vs. Accommodation podcast with Maude Le Roux (of A Total Approach) to learn about these intensives.

A parent asked how to handle when the child asked strangers to repeat seemingly random numbers or words. I shared my stories of what I did when my son did those things. I tried to bring awareness to what he was asking using the “hmm…” or wondering what that meant or what he was thinking about. Sometimes I would comment, “Oh, you’re thinking about the video game you’re playing! I don’t know if (this person) knows that game…“, etc.

Next, I pointed out that in a podcast I did about scripting, the DIR expert pointed out that there is always a meaning to what our children script. We might know what they are scripting about and can comment on that, or we might not know (or pretend that we don’t) and wonder about it. Also, it’s great for our kids to see how people react to their requests. Some comply, others wonder, and others refuse!

Finally, I pointed out the Theory of Mind podcast where we discussed how kids learn to take another’s perspective and how it is a capacity that develops once our children start to become abstract.

As always, take advantage of ICDL’s free consultations, free Thursday mini-seminars, Dr. Gil Tippy’s For on the Floor videos, and CEO Jeff’s blog. And on this website, check in with the latest Resources, Products (including discounts on ICDL DIR 101 and 201), and the Start Here link.

‘See’ you again next Monday.

August 10, 2020

We had a few new parents on the call today so I walked everyone through this website, where these notes are and the Start Here link. I pointed out this week’s new podcast that discussed that phase we all go through when we first learn about Floortime. 

One caregiver wondered about developmental growth spurts because they noticed such forward changes in the child. Sometimes we see a calming of challenging behaviours when autistic children have fevers. Other times we just notice that our children have developed. It happens to all children! It’s great to take notice and encourage that development by supporting where our children are.

We went over the ICDL Basic Chart to help determine where our children are developmentally.

Someone asked about the P.L.A.Y. Project which we discussed. It is derived from Floortime and applied to children under age 6. It’s helpful for parents new to Floortime to learn the basics of doing Floortime. We talked about how Floortime coaching can help get us on track to be sure we aren’t using prescriptions as a crutch and staying in the moment with our child, as we know our children best.

A parent asked if others wonder if their children’s behaviour is just kids being kids sometimes versus autistic behaviour. I gave an example of this from last night! Our son was protesting bedtime and my husband said, “So he’s just a typical kid protesting bedtime.” Sometimes when we are so focused on supporting our autistic children, we forget that they are just kids like other kids and will be kids. Kids behave how kids behave. It is all part of development. 

The last thing we discussed was about expecting when our children will begin to talk if they are still non speaking. This differs greatly from child to child. A good Floortime speech and language pathologist can rule out or find any biological challenges to speaking. But most importantly, speak comes with development after early communication. We want to focus on preverbal affective signalling.

As always, take advantage of ICDL’s free consultations, free Thursday mini-seminars, Dr. Gil Tippy’s For on the Floor videos, and CEO Jeff’s blog. And on this website, check in with the latest Resources, Products (including discounts on ICDL DIR 101 and 201), and the Start Here link.

‘See’ you again next Monday.

August 3, 2020

We had some good questions today starting with one about ‘heavy work’ or sensory input for a child who benefits from it in order regulate. I pointed caregivers to the Sensory Lifestyle podcast and suggested browsing Fun and Function‘s website for products that could support sensory activities that regulate. Also I shared how providing deep massage upon waking and falling asleep can help our children very much.

A parent asked about Oppositional Defiance Disorder. I referred to Dr. Gordon Neufeld‘s work. He is a developmental clinical psychologist who teaches a developmental approach to parenting and feels that this is not a disorder but merely a part of development for kids to protest what we ask of them. Typically if our children are acting out, the DIR/Floortime approach is to wonder why the behaviour is happening, and it usually has to do with us putting too much of a demand on our child–even if we don’t see it that way. Our children’s sensory systems are different than ours and their behaviour is communication that we must listen to.

We talked about accepting our children as they are and not trying to push our agendas on them. One parent shared that they are in the ‘realization phase’ (I love this term) because they assumed that when their child began speech therapy, they would start talking right away. I shared that it took a good four or more years for me to adjust to my family’s new normal. It is very challenging as well when we feel judged by family members, friends and strangers. We have to focus on what’s best for our child, and that is to meet them where they are at developmentally and respect their individual differences, all while providing that safe relationship for them.

Our final topic of discussion was around setting limits with a child playing video games when a power struggle breaks out when it’s time to end the game. It’s especially important not to use what the child loves against them as this erodes the relationship and trust. Instead we can involve them in creating a schedule or boundaries around what they want to do as discussed in this podcast about food (but the same Floortime principles can apply to other activities). We can also always focus on the next time they get to play the video game instead of stopping the game. We can create an activity of interest around the game after we’re done the game where we show great curiosity and interest in the game, what happened, what we’ll do differently tomorrow in the game, etc. as discussed in this recent podcast to make meaning for the child in other activities. We don’t want to be our child’s enemy, but their supporter. I think this video illustrates this in a fantastic way.

I mentioned a few spots on this website to check out:

As always, take advantage of ICDL’s free consultations, free Thursday mini-seminars, Dr. Gil Tippy’s For on the Floor videos, and CEO Jeff’s blog. ‘See’ you again on Monday!

July 27, 2020

Today we discussed how to handle transitions of going back to school and how we might need to take some extra time to prepare our children. We can talk about what will be different, we can wonder what will be the same and what staff and which friends will be back. We can talk about how it might be scary and how they might prefer to come home, but that it will also be fun to see their friends again. We may need to take a few extra minutes, or more, at drop off co-regulating until they are feeling ready to go in to the school. It might mean hugging them while saying, “I know. I know. It’s scary.” and just letting them cry. And after a bit being soft and gentle discussing how it’s hard and scary, “…but I think you can do it. Are you feeling brave enough yet?

A parent asked about stretching out interactions with a child who is requesting chips or chocolates. I suggested going to the Chocolates section of this blog post. I suggested a number of techniques that depend on where the child is developmentally, such as offering a choice, “Do you want Snickers or Smarties?” and then, “Hmm… How many Smarties should we have?” and then “Hmm… Where should we eat them? At the table or here?” and then counting down as we eat them and taking turns eating them, etc. Anything you can do to keep the gleam in the eye as they anticipate the chocolate while being in a joyful, playful interaction with you to stretch out the interaction will help build those early developmental capacities.

At the beginning of this blog post there is a Jake Greenspan video that discusses doing Floortime with everyday activities such as getting dressed. These are great tips!

A parent asked about their child making meaning around a bouncing ball that is in their story book, during which time Mom bounces on a yoga ball saying “Bounce! Bounce! Bounce!” and handing the parent a cue card with a picture of something the child has made meaning around. It sure sounded to me like the child had made meaning around these words and how the shared experience of bouncing helped the child form meaning around the idea of bouncing, which is now associated with a fun activity of bouncing up and down on a yoga ball with their parent.

A Floortime therapist asked how to support generalization of skills with children who show higher capacities at home with their mother than they can with the therapist, even in the home, or with children who show higher capacities at school than at home. We discussed how in Floortime we always start with moving up the developmental ladder. We have to meet the child where they are at and work up those capacities by joining their current emotional interests.

A parent asked if the Waldorf schools are in line with the DIR model. In my experience, they are developmental approach schools and they use Relationship as the DIR model does to form a sense of safety within which children can thrive. For instance, children stay with the same teacher and classmates throughout grade school and they have symbolic rituals around birthdays, etc. where they will, for instance, light a candle to represent each year of life and talk about significant events from each year. 

A parent talked about her child’s focus on birthdays as being a bit rigid. I talked about the blog post where I described Dr. Greenspan’s description of compulsivity versus impulsivity and how using Floortime can help children be more flexible by working on those back-and-forth interactions.

As always, take advantage of ICDL’s free consultations, free Thursday mini-seminars, Dr. Gil Tippy’s For on the Floor videos, and CEO Jeff’s blog. ‘See’ you again on Monday!

July 20, 2020

Today’s session was filled with concerns about going back to school. Parents wondered whether they should keep their children home or send them to school. There were questions around how safe it would be to send them to school, knowing that things will be so different and that most of our kids won’t be able to wear masks. Parents wondered about e-learning options. Some parents are quite overwhelmed with behavioural challenges at home.

We talked about how in the grand scheme of things, we want to stay safe. Some parents have decided their kids are staying home, others are sending their kids back to school. Even if they miss out on a year of school, it’s not the end of the world. We can use this time to learn and practice Floortime and form good relationships with our children and share joy together. I reminded caregivers to review this podcast: Being vs. Doing.

Other parents expressed concerns around their children overeating and we focused on looking for the ‘why’. I suggested reviewing the Foodtime podcast and creating a meal plan schedule with the child so they can have ownership of what they eat. I also suggested this podcast that discusses some limit setting around food.

We also talked about limit setting with our children and whether we take things away or use a less behavioural approach. I suggested the developmental approach and these blog posts:

I also talked about general developmental approach resources to browse: Janet Lansbury and Gordon Neufeld.

A parent found this resource for explaining Covid-19 to our children.

As always, take advantage of ICDL’s free consultations, free Thursday mini-seminars, Dr. Gil Tippy’s For on the Floor videos, and CEO Jeff’s blog. ‘See’ you again on Monday!

July 13, 2020

Thank you for attending our session today!

I started by sharing a recent blog from A Total Approach which we discussed.

A parent said they’ve been doing the Play Project and Floortime with their child and have seen a lot of progress but now it seems to be steady and the parent is wondering what to do next. They find themselves repeating the same things and want to know what else to do next.

I suggested a few blog/podcasts from this site to explore and we discussed them:

A parent asked, How do I know where my child is developmentally? I provided a few podcast/blog suggestions from this site:

  • Under the Guide to Starting DIR/Floortime With Your Child, Adolescent, or Adult under the Start Here link above, the first 2 links are about finding the sensory profile of your child and how to determine their developmental level where you will see the link in the box to the FEDC Basic Chart which you can go through and complete for your child, remembering that we are always fluctuating between capacities back and forth, up and down depending on our regulation and environment.
  • Also, see the notes from last week where some of those other blog posts and Floortime videos might be helpful.

A parent asked out circles of communication so I referred to this blog post where we talked about the difference between stop-start interactions versus continuous flow interactions, and about the top 4 mistakes parents make to deter continuous flow of interactions.

I also pointed out the importance of staying in the moment and attuning to our child.

As always, take advantage of ICDL’s free consultations, free Thursday mini-seminars, Dr. Gil Tippy’s For on the Floor videos, and CEO Jeff’s blog. ‘See’ you again on Monday!

July 6, 2020

We had a nice session today.

I shared a link about self-regulation strategies from The Inspired Treehouse and mentioned that if you are interested in products, courses, etc. and you purchase via my website, it helps me fund the website.

A parent new to Floortime asked how to structure the day doing Floortime when you have multiple children. Another parent offered that their younger one is starting to mimic Floortime just from watching the parents do it with the sibling. Their little one leads their cousins on how to talk to their autistic sibling, modelling Floortime for their cousins. The parent said to make sure it’s inclusive for all the kids.

I provided a few podcast/blog suggestions from this site to look at that can help:

Another parent has a 12-year-old boy who tends to play the same everyday by rolling a car back and forth, which is calming, but the parent has run out of ideas on how to playfully obstruct and interact. The child also loves bike riding and it is calming for him. They have trouble when asking him to stop playing his video game because he can have an outburst of anger and doesn’t want to stop.

I suggested many podcasts/blogs from my site to address all of these concerns:

I also suggested watching the actual Floortime videos on my site and listen to the feedback I receive from the DIR Expert:

Another parent wondered if taking DIR 101 or 201 from ICDL would be helpful. I said that indeed the courses are helpful and there is a discount for both here to use. But 201 is really designed for practitioners and you have to present a case study with a child who is not your own. You can audit the course but you are also viewing a lot of Floortime videos with others who are learning. I suggested that another way to learn is to make your way through the Start Here link on this site and read through the introduction and watch the intro videos. Then the remainder of the page lists all the blogs, podcasts and videos by category. You can slowly work your way through topics of interest and it will all start to sink in as you get insights on helping your own child.

Another parent described their family’s journey from having Dr. Stanley Greenspan as their doctor when their children were young and how they’ve done Floortime for over a decade now. They have two VERY different kids and both with challenges. It’s important to do individual sessions with each child as well as family activities. They have videos of their kids over the years doing Floortime and have come so far. It gets easier. You have ups and downs. The sensory part is important. Their son’s first words were on a swing, on the trampoline or in the pool and he was a late talker. To this day, they still work on circles of communication around his interests at age 14.

As always, take advantage of ICDL’s free consultations, free Thursday mini-seminars, Dr. Gil Tippy’s For on the Floor videos, and CEO Jeff’s blog and free Q & A! ‘See’ you again on Monday!

June 29, 2020

It was wonderful to see you all today.

We started with a question about homeschooling since the child has been doing so well at home in contrast to being in public school with so many stressors. The caregiver wondered about finding a DIR community to start a group in their area.

They mentioned that DIR Home Program’s Colette Ryan would support and travel up to coach if they found interested people. I also mentioned Jackie Bartell at ICDL who is a retired special educator and is available to coach. I also suggested reading the Teacher Tom blog, although it is not autism-related. He is a developmental approach preschool teacher and his blogs are always great examples of how to help children thrive through play.

Another parent had some experience and offered that their homeschooling approach wouldn’t work just staying at home because their child needed to experience being with others to understand how the world works. If they don’t understand how to deal with their anxieties about dealing with the real world, they will be stuck and in the house forever.

Another parent who has homeschooled for years offered that homeschooling has worked great for them. They have a private tutor come once/week & a Floortime trained occupational therapist come once/week and that having ‘the village’ is the key. That is, create a community of like-minded people to assist in our efforts.

I shared that many homeschoolers meet up regularly for field trips to the science centre, park, etc. in order to do group activities, but with the safety net of the community and caregivers there to guide them.

Another parent shared their homeschooling experience highlighting two areas: the education part and the Floortime part and integrating those two things in the Individualized Education Plan. Homeschooling worked when they learned HOW the child learns, they said. You learn that by being with your child, spending time together. It takes time to find out how they are learning and they were told that our kids love and want to socialize but they don’t know how. When you just put them with other kids they just don’t magically get it.
It’s about helping them and working on it daily with them.

They tried co-ops and they didn’t work.
They joined special needs groups and regular groups and the child was lost. The OT, psychologist, and students all helped out. Finding other kids who have the same interest as their child and learning to socializing with them helped.

This parent is an immigrant so they faced racism which made the parent feel how their child feels about something they cannot change. They integrated socialization little-by-little by just waiting for the child to develop, not by pushing the child. Socializing is a developmental capacity too. Covid has opened the mind of many professionals to homeschooling and other ways of surviving and thriving.

As always, take advantage of ICDL’s free consultations, free Thursday mini-seminars, Dr. Gil Tippy’s For on the Floor videos, and CEO Jeff’s blog and free Q & A! ‘See’ you again on Monday!

June 22, 2020

Thank you for everyone who came out today.

I started by showing a number of blogs and resources parents can look at which can all be found here on this website. I also mentioned the latest campaign by the Floortime Coalition of California and suggested anyone interested make a short video as described here.

A different parent from last time gave us positive feedback from their ICDL online consultation. I continued to urge all parents to take advantage of their current promotion for a free online consultation and they have discounted pricing for further consulting practices as well at this time.

A parent mentioned reading a book called Einstein Never Used Flashcards, finding it very helpful.

A parent mentioned that their child is still in ABA and they have explored Son Rise as they are exploring Floortime and deciding on services. They want to keep ABA to work on Academics. I talked about Dr. Gil Tippy’s Foundation Academics podcast (and mentioned one of the Dr. Glovinsky podcasts) about how until the early social-emotional capacities are mastered, it is very difficult to master any academics that aren’t memory-based. I talked about what memory-based looks like and gave an example of two real-life teens–one with ABA and one with Floortime and the difference in the Floortime teen’s ability to self-regulate and navigate new environments.

Another parent asked if you can work on academics while working on the early developmental capacities. I just said that I can only speak for my own experience and our son is not yet working on academics beyond beginning early literacy (reading and writing) so I can only say that yes, I’ve seen many families work on both together. I just stressed the importance of the early developmental capacities to instill the spirit of inquiry in our kids, as Dr. Tippy says.

Another asked about how you work on math with a pre-teen who struggles to stay at grade level in only this subject. I gave some examples of early mathematical concepts that a developmental approach uses using topics the child is interested in (e.g., counting train cars or wheels on model trains, giving friends some of your apples and how many do you have left) but didn’t know about older children persay.

A parent asked about DIR/Floortime schools in her area. I pointed out that at the Start Here menu on this page, above, you can scroll down the Schools category to see blogs and podcasts in which I featured DIR schools or school topics.

A parent asked about the IEP and we had a discussion of how you can stay an advocate for your child if your child doesn’t have access to a DIR school. The podcast I did about putting Floortime goals into an IEP discusses this to some extent.

We then got to the topic of remediation versus accommodation, a podcast I did with Maude Le Roux, and I described the types of remediation we have done with our son at A Total Approach in Pennsylvania each time we go for an intensive.

We have done Tomatis listening therapy with our son, which is part of Maude’s early stage intervention, and now we are working on timing and sequencing with Interactive Metronome program to target praxis skills as it relates to timing, sequencing, and execution, and the ReadLS program to target supporting developmental mechanisms for reading and writing skills.

I mentioned that due to the border closure, we cannot go to Maude’s clinic this summer so we are working on these programs at home and that we completed a cycle of Tomatis in March and will try Dr. Stephen Porges’ Safe and Sound Protocol next because I saw him speak at ICDL’s conference in March. I shared my notes and slides from that presentation at the Affect Autism twitter account if you scroll back to March 6th, 2020.

We also briefly mentioned my autism and medication podcast with Dr. Josh Feder.

Finally, a parent mentioned having had a couple of coaching sessions but still not being really sure how to proceed. I suggested a few steps they could take:

  • Follow the links under the Guide to Starting DIR/Floortime With Your Child, Adolescent, or Adult section under the Start Here link above to complete the developmental and sensory processing profile checklists in the first 2 blogs listed there.
  • Then if they get stuck, read the Stumbling blocks… series under the How to Overcome Obstacles in Floortime section which I adapted from the book Engaging Autism.
  • Use the User’s Guide to the DIR Model book as a tool to get started, with the disclaimer that we don’t want to make Floortime prescriptive. There are no ‘instructions’ for Floortime as you need to be in the moment, but this book breaks up all of the techniques we typically use in Floortime to get a beginner going. I did a podcast with the author about this book.
  • I also mentioned how essential it is to watch videos of ourselves and self-reflect as described in the following podcasts with Dr. Andrea Davis.

As always, take advantage of ICDL’s free consultations, free Thursday mini-seminars, Dr. Gil Tippy’s For on the Floor videos, and CEO Jeff’s blog and free Q & A!

June 15, 2020

Thank you for everyone who came out on Monday.

A parent looked up Dr. Gordon Neufeld, whom I often mention and found that he has a developmentally friendly book list you can purchase for $10.00. 

Another parent gave us positive feedback from their ICDL online consultation. I continued to urge all parents to take advantage of their current promotion for a free online consultation.

A parent asked about Reggio Emilia, the preschool relationship-based approach from Italy. I mentioned that it is very in line with other developmental approaches like Floortime and the Waldorf schools, along with many homeschooling approaches that focus on the child’s interests and play.

A parent asked about DIR/Floortime schools in her area. I pointed out that at the Start Here menu on this page, above, you can scroll down the Schools category to see blogs and podcasts in which I featured DIR schools or school topics and mentioned some specific California resources: The DIR COC and The Greenhouse Therapy Center, along with Dr. Feder’s website.

Some discussion of ABA ensued and I reminded everyone that if it’s skills you want to teach your child, I would prefer the structured component of a DIR program over ABA. This is the component where you have a goal in mind as described in this blog post.

You could also listen to or read a couple of good podcasts I did about addressing challenges at home and at school

As always, take advantage of ICDL’s free consultations, free Thursday mini-seminars, Dr. Gil Tippy’s For on the Floor videos, and CEO Jeff’s blog and free Q & A!

 

June 8, 2020

Thank you for everyone who came out today. I hope you found it supportive & helpful!

I shared some links to check out. As always, take advantage of ICDL’s free consultations, free Thursday mini-seminars, Dr. Gil Tippy’s For on the Floor videos, and CEO Jeff’s blog and free Q & A!

We started off with some resources:

One parent mentioned being interested in a DIR school so I pointed everyone to the Start Here link on the blog and to scroll down to the Schools section to see the blogs/podcasts I did with such services.

Also at the Start Here link, I suggested the caregivers new to Floortime browse and try to watch the intro videos, then pick a podcast whose topic resonates with you.

Someone asked about The Floortime Center, referenced above (Jake Greenspan’s videos) so I mentioned going there with our son and the blog I wrote about it

There were questions about our kids being shy and hesitant when new people are around in familiar places such as going to the park, or socializing with relatives, etc. I mentioned that Dr. Gordon Neufeld (see his YouTube channel for videos) talks about attachment and how until our children are developmentally ready, it isn’t even appropriate to socialize with other children, without us–their main attachment figure–being there to facilitate interactions. I brought up that in DIR the “R” is for Relationship and how it is anxiety-provoking to be around those with whom we don’t have a Relationship with and feel safe with.

I talked about how we need to not expect anything from our children nor direct their behaviour. Instead, let’s empathize with them and say to them what we see they are experiencing such as “Oh, this is different today. There are new people here. It’s a bit scary.” and letting them experience their feelings and emotions without pressuring them to feel differently.

I shared how Dr. Neufeld will say to invite the inevitable by saying things like “We’re going to the park today, but it will be different because your cousins will be there. They might be swinging on the swings and want to play with you. This might feel a bit scary. You won’t like it and you might want to leave right away, but I’ll be with you to keep you safe. It’s ok to be scared. I can help you. We can leave whenever you want to.

I also suggested watching the podcast with Kristy Gose about doing Floortime in small groups and with siblings. I also talked about talking to the parties who will be visiting with you to suggest they give your child some space and then use a lot of affect to join their world and engage them. Also see last week’s notes for more tips on doing this.

And again we want to focus on Being vs. Doing, allowing our child to be themselves and feel their own feelings without telling them it will be ok.

Finally, we talked about how the child is dysregulated when things aren’t predictable so our first job is to co-regulate with them so they feel safe and secure again.

A parent asked if anyone knew about ASDreading.com. I am not familiar with it, but I know that Maude LeRoux‘s clinic near Philadelphia, A Total Approach has many tools for reading including ReadOn which they’ve used with our son. I also wrote a few blogs about a Developmental approach to Early Literacy (see parts 3, 2, and 1 linked in this part 4 blog).

June 1, 2020

* Sorry for the delay!

Thank you for everyone who came out today. Lots of new faces today! I hope you found it supportive & helpful!

I shared some links to check out. As always, take advantage of ICDL’s free consultations, free Thursday mini-seminars, Dr. Gil Tippy’s For on the Floor videos, and CEO Jeff’s blog!

Also see Alfie Kohn’s article for the compelling case against ABA.

One parent had a question about a child who will come to interact when the child wants something, but otherwise it’s hard to interact.

The key is to find something the child is interested in and join the child first. Once the child sees that you are interested in what they are doing, you can work on engagement and interaction. I gave examples of ‘playing clueless‘ when the child asks for something they want and how you can stretch this interaction out for many, many minutes in a playful way. Using lots of anticipation, affect and “Hmm…?” the child will realize they can come up with a thought and communicate that thought. See Dr. Tippy’s For on the Floor video series for more about this.

Another parent wondered how to interact with a 13-year-old, especially around worrying about the riots and upcoming surgery. After learning some more information, I suggested looking at the blog & podcast about affective reciprocal interactions since affect is really the key to get the flow of interactions going, which allows the child to co-regulate their emotional frustrations with us, then eventually self-regulate. Another podcast discusses how self-regulation begins.

Another new parent wonders where to start as they are brand new to Floortime. I suggested going to the Start Here link at this site for an introduction to Floortime and the DIR Model and to browse through the podcasts and blog posts. There you will find blogs such as the Quickstart Guide to Floortime, 5 Floortime Games to Play, and Being vs. Doing. Also we talked about appropriately challenging the child, playfully when the child is in a good mood and motivated to play with us.

May 25, 2020

Thank you for attending on this Memorial Day (USA). We had a great turnout and interestingly, it turned out to be more like a Q & A with questions coming in the chat box, and me going through them one-by-one. Before we knew it, the hour was up!

We started with the PLAY Project. I mentioned that I took advantage of their free Intro course in April and completed it last week. I found it very good and helpful, but it is for beginners. It’s aimed at age 0 to 6 and specifically at birth to 3, but certainly applies in general. It’s basically a nicely organized, packaged system for applying Floortime at home with parents mediating the application of the model. It is a start to understanding the basics of Floortime. A parent in the group has been doing PLAY Project and is very pleased with the results. Her child is 2 and a half yrs old.

I did a podcast about the PLAY Project with Dr. Rick Solomon and you can view or read about it here.

One parent asked a question that brought up the sensory experiences of our children. I reminded everyone to do the sensory processing profile for their child AND for themselves here if you scroll down to the Sensory Profile Checklist box. I talked about how Floortime and the PLAY Project use the family approach and how it’s important to understand how our profiles interact with one another.

A parent asked about getting their child to wear a mask during this quarantine. I shared that I feel it would be impossible to get my son to wear one but after a moment I realized that –like we discussed last week with the dentist and other things– we break it down and maybe it could be possible. We might start with a social story where we could even put photos of family members wearing masks into a booklet. One parent shared this link where you can create your own social stories. While we don’t want to rely on social stories to have our kids memorize their way through life, introducing them to the idea of something you want them to participate in is a good starting point.

Next you might get a comfy mask or three and have them play with them. Playfully try yours on and take it off if they protest. We want them to have a positive experience with them. Then, we might start wearing a mask around the house at a particular time each day for 10 minutes or so and just get them used to seeing us in a mask. Step-by-step, you can slowly get your child used to the idea and eventually into wearing one themselves.

A parent asked about sensory modulation activities. I shared that Dr. Greenspan talked about 3 components of Floortime: Floortime, semi-structured, and structured activities. If you scroll down to the STRUCTURED AND SEMI-STRUCTURED, SENSORIMOTOR, PROBLEM-SOLVING SESSIONS section, you can link to a radio show Dr. Greenspan did that covers the basics of Floortime, talking about sensory/motor play and games. The semi-structured component can include gross motor modulation activities where you can kick a ball back-and-forth or play red-light/green light. Getting child to slow down, stop, then go fast, etc. in a playful way can help children regulate themselves.

The parent asked what about modulation activities for fine motor skills? I pointed out that gross motor development always precedes fine motor and pointed you guys to the Early Literacy series that I did where the developmental literacy expert suggested a more gross motor start to writing, for instance, before moving to pencil/pen use.

A parent asked about the DIR 101 course and I explained that it is a broad introduction to what the DIR Model and Floortime are about. You can get a $25 discount for the course on this page (scroll down to ICDL section). The parent also asked about Floortime books so I pointed the group to my book list here.

A parent asked about how to help their older neurotypical adolescent help do Floortime with their autistic adolescent. I reminded the group about the podcast about doing Floortime in small groups and with siblings. We did a second podcast as well about promoting symbolic thinking in small group settings.

In terms of a good intro to watch about Floortime, I suggested the Intro section at my Start Here link.

As I encouraged everyone to take advantage of the free consultation sessions being offered by ICDL, I suggested looking at my podcasts on self-reflection with Dr. Andrea Davis which provided great insight for me in my learning process. We did many follow-ups if you search “Andrea Davis” on this website.

We talked about the Book Thinking Goes to School and the book about visual spatial information by the same co-author. I pointed out that in last week’s ICDL mini-seminar the O.T. at the Rebecca School mentioned they created a book applying Thinking Goes to School for each developmental capacity and I will be doing a podcast about this in the future. ICDL might even offer a seminar about it.

A parent inquired about how to be playfully obstructive and I referred the group to my podcast with Dr. Tippy about having your foot on the gas and brake at the same time. We can slow down and stretch out all interactions while children are making requests/demands to us. Dr. Tippy’s For on the Floor series is also great for tips. The radio show link above to Dr. Greenspan’s old show also covers this topic (about 30 minutes in).

A parent asked if anyone had heard of Autism Navigator, a sight that helps you recognize the early signs of autism.

As always, I encouraged everyone to take advantage of the FREE resources being offered by ICDL on their home page under Resources for Parents, including the free mini-seminars on Thursdays, the free consultations, and Dr. Tippy’s For on the Floor videos.

May 18, 2020

Thank you for all of you who attended. It was great to see everyone and share each others triumphs of the past week!

One parent, following up from last week’s suggestions, tried the deep breathing with their teen. The parent modelled deep breathing before thinking about or acting on anything they were going to do (which usually provokes the child’s anxiety). Breathing together was very co-regulating for the child. The same parent went outside their own comfort zone with the teenager by going outside and weeding. It was very regulating for both of them to just “be” together.

View my podcast/blog Being vs. Doing here.

A few parents shared some stories of their children’s birthdays over the computer. One parent compared how being at parties was difficult for their child when all the children would clap and what happened over the computer instead. It was a bit loud and overwhelming, but the child got used to it and seemed to enjoy the party experience.

Another parent shared how their son began requesting family Zooms even though he would pay attention for maybe 20 seconds before running away, but he enjoyed that the meeting was still going on (even though he wasn’t paying full attention anymore).

We talked about the sensory experiences of our children in these situations.

A father in the group, new to Floortime, was curious about how to use affect with his child. I reminded everyone to do the sensory processing profile for their child AND for themselves here if you scroll down to the Sensory Profile Checklist box.

Next, knowing the sensory profiles, make sure you are in an environment that supports BOTH of your individual profiles. Next, watch, wait and wonder what your child is paying attention to/interested in and join them. Once you see, put yourselves in their shoes and imagine what they are experiencing and comment on it with interest.

We then gave a bunch of examples to each other about being silly together! Playful nonsense is where it’s at to get that ‘gleam in the eye’ to connect with your child. This will promote interaction between you both. One parent said their child loves funny-sounding words. My child loves funny-sounding noises.

The father said his child likes to ride a bike so I suggested being playful by saying things like, “Hey! You’re going too fast! Whoa slow down!” or “Whew! I’m out of breath!” (panting) “Please slow down!” (in a silly, playful authentic voice) or running beside the child then shouting playfully, “STOP!” with a playful ‘stop’ gesture, then playfully saying “Goooooooooo!” to go again, or being in front of the child who rides to you then not moving and looking very frightened that they’re about to crash into you and saying “Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! Please stop!” then jumping out of the way at the last minute laughing together, etc.

Another parent shared they changed the lyrics to a famous song to something the child liked and this gave the father another idea because his child likes music.

We shared our experiences with online therapy, school, or other appointments/meetings. A parent shared this resource about facilitating these sessions.

Some parents said their children thrive from having the structure and predictability of the online session, but one parent said their child gets bored with the same routine and refuses to participate. What to do?

First, in order for our kids to be able to participate in something new, it sometimes takes many tries. I shared that I see many parents trying something once, saying it didn’t work, and then giving up saying it didn’t work. But you might have to start more slowly. I shared our experience of starting the dentist. First we just went to the building and looked around. Next time, we went into the room and got to ride up and down on the dentist chair and squirt the water. Next, our son got to hold a couple of the tools and watch the staff put on gloves and their masks (before Covid!) and finally by the time we started any dental work, he was used to being there. And even then the dentist didn’t get the opportunity to do much, but each time was a bit better.

We discussed doing something new/different each time to peak their interest with the teletherapy. I shared a related example about how our son would be so interested in PJ Masks books, but after we bought a bunch and read them two or three times, he refused. I had his Dad sit on the bed reading them and then he protested that those were HIS books. I said that no, Dada wanted to read them. THEN he wanted to read them again. So by playfully doing something a bit different you can entice the child into an activity you know they enjoy.

Another parent gave a great example of talking over Facetime with a grandparent and the child not showing much interest or saying anything. So the grandparent said hi to everyone except that child and just smiled instead. Eventually the child initiated saying hi to the grandparent!

We talked about making sure it’s interesting for the child. I gave the example of our son loving hangman, but he chooses the topic, which tends to be PJ Masks, Paw Patrol (TV shows), or Sonic or Rocket League (video games). Then he is motivated to guess the word. At first we would have to have the entire word completed before he would read it, but after a few weeks, he is now starting to figure out the words with letters missing!

It takes time!

A parent asked if socializing begins with adults before with peers first. Yes, in child development and especially in the field of attachment, children form relationships and connections with their primary caregivers and only when they establish a good back-and-forth with their caregivers will they develop towards seeking out peers as well. I explained how this unfolded with my son over time and mentioned Dr. Gordon Neufeld discussing how the planets revolve around the sun and similarly, children need to revolve around a primary alpha figure, the adult. If they try to revolve around each other we see problems because they don’t have that stable attachment and peers cannot provide that to them, and are less predictable.

You can see the podcast I did with DIR Expert Training Leader Kristy Gose about doing Floortime with siblings and peers here.

Someone asked about the Soundsory program. I explained that there is evidence for listening therapies over many other newer therapies out there, my neurologist told us, and that we have been doing Tomatis with our son for about six years through A Total Approach near Philadelphia. We have been going for 2-week intensives there for six years. Maude Le Roux explains the process of helping the children she works with in this podcast, using my son as an example.

As always, I encouraged everyone to take advantage of the FREE resources being offered for a couple more weeks by ICDL on their home page under Resources for Parents.

May 11, 2020

Hi caregivers!

 
It was nice to see you all today and welcome to the caregivers who came for the first time today!
 
 
Today we talked about how to maintain our own self-regulation when we get triggered and lose our patience! We know our child’s regulation is affected by ours.
 
 
  • I suggested that the adults in the family can take turns with the child, especially if one parent is less triggered than the other
  • A parent suggested deep breaths and breathing to help our physiology to calm itself down. This works for us, but also for our kids, as well as counting down 5..4..3..2..1.. Our son benefits greatly from taking DEEP breaths when distressed, focusing on blowing out the breath slowly and from me counting down slowly and with affect in my voice and on my happy face
  • Another parent suggested finding a regulating activity for yourself and your child to do parallel to each other helps. This parent likes to pull weeds while the child loves water so gets to play with the hose with the water on. They are both finding the activities they are doing independently, regulating, but beside each other.
 
Here are some resources:
 
 
Go to the Start Here link above and search all the topics that you are interested in. Here’s specifically some related to what we discussed today:
 
 
Family issues:
 
 
 
Regulation:
 
 
Sensory profile and giving our children the sensory lifestyle they require to stay regulated:
 
Sensory profile checklist is in this blog to do on yourself and your child:
 
 
ABA considerations:
 
Dr. Tippy’s For on the Floor series:
 
Dr. Tippy’s ABA Detox videos at the very bottom of his link:
 
The DIR model does incorporate structure as well:
 
 
My last point about asking yourself if you would treat your friend, spouse or neurotypical child that way?
 
 
The importance of PLAY:
 
 
One of the parents found the interview about my experiences to be helpful:
 
 
How to work with adolescents/young adults:

May 4, 2020

Hi everyone!

 
It was great to again see many new faces along with some of our regulars in the drop-in session.
 
Since there were a lot of new folks who wondered how to start, and one person expressed how much the sensory diet/lifestyle info was so helpful, I’m sending a lot of the same links some of you have seen a few times now.
 
 
Start looking at this page and browsing topics that jump out at you. Look at all the green links under the Introduction to DIR/Floortime section.
 
The next section Beginner’s Guide to DIR/Floortime really gives you more of an understanding of what we do. And I referenced a few of these links in our session. Specifically, I mentioned why academics should wait until we work on the early social capacities (the Foundation Academics link) and how we want to advocate for our child and have everything we do be related to our overarching DIR/Floortime approach (DIR/Floortime as a comprehensive developmental approach).
 
Also in that section, The Importance of Preverbal Affective Signalling is the one I recommended to a parent of a 13-yr-old who is more “Aspergers”. She covers NON SPEAKING clients AND clients who are developmentally further along, like an “Aspergers” type child. Another parent also suggested the Tilt parenting podcast which covers various ages and abilities.
 
 
If you are just getting started, you want to do two checklists with your kids in the next section called Guide to Starting DIR/Floortime With Your Child, Adolescent, or Adult
Notice the first 2 links are

Implement a DIR/Floortime program for your child: Step 1 is the sensory processing profile – see the Sensory Profile Checklist in the box on the right
Implement a DIR/Floortime program for your child: Where is your child developmentally? – see the FEDC basic chart in the green box

 

In each of those posts, you will see a link the checklists to assess your child’s profiles.

 
Here is another video about sensory processing that ICDL shows:
 
A parent shared with us The Sensory Project, which is not DIR/Floortime but good for sensory information: https://thesensoryproject.com/
 
In another podcast this SLP discusses how parents have to advocate for their desired approach and need to take the lead:
 
Once you go through the Guide to starting DIR/Floortime section links you can start to get a good feel for Floortime.
 
I mentioned that writing these blogs, directly from material in Engaging Autism, I learned a lot about how to move my child up the developmental ladder, which can be a slow process–years in my case:
 
Under the How to Overcome Obstacles in Floortime
Someone brought up eating issues. I’ve shared this podcast before which is a great podcast about how to approach difficulties with your child’s eating habits:
 
Someone asked if we can make gains with older children. YES! This podcast outlined how progress was made with a man in his 40s who was non speaking AND the importance for ALL of our kids of PREVERBAL SIGNALLING – that is, how we communicate BEFORE we can speak, and if we will never speak:
If you want to hear my experience, one of the DIR experts interviewed ME recently with all of my lessons learned:
 
Are you noticing that a lot of the people in these podcasts are all saying the SAME THING in a slightly different way, depending on their lens from their profession? That is the DIR Model.
 
Thank you all for doing the best for your child! Remember, it’s ok that we’re not perfect. We do a little bit at a time, always remembering to RESPECT our child WHERE THEY ARE AT and not putting too much expectation on them that they cannot live up to. They will develop at their own pace best with our love, guidance and support.
 
“See” you next Monday!

April 27, 2020

Hi caregivers,

 
It was nice to see many new faces today!
 
Our first question was about what to do when our child has a meltdown or tantrum? What about discipline? My child is impulsive which explains some of the hitting little brother.
 
The parent referenced the co-regulation blog on my site:
 
Please see this podcast on impulsivity in our children with OT Maude Le Roux
 
A therapist in the group said she always asks parents to consider two things:
  • What co-regulates my child
  • What dysregulates my child
Once you know this, this helps you. It’s a stress response. Please see my podcasts on Regulation:
 

Dr. Shanker
Meltdown – red zone, no reaching them
Tantrum – still a bit of room

Here is a podcast/blog I did with DIR expert training leader and retired special educator, Jackie Bartell that discusses the boundaries around food we talked about:

and another about behavioural challenges at home:
 
Here is the FOODTIME podcast with Jake Greenspan talking about giving the child more choices so they feel more in control:
 
It’s always about the Relationship, the “R”
 
The “I” (Individual differences)

Find out your child’s sensory processing profile!
https://affectautism.com/2015/10/30/sensory-processing-profile/ scroll down to sensory profile checklist box and click the GET HERE button

The “D” (Development)
Find out where your child is developmentally using the ICDL checklist:
https://affectautism.com/2015/11/05/implement-floortime/ scroll down to the green basic chart box and CLICK HERE to see the checklist
For a review of the early developmental capacities: https://affectautism.com/2015/09/24/the-d-in-the-dir-model-development/
 
Another parent asked about developmental regressions as her child is teething and showing some regression:
One parent asked about DIR goals in a school IEP:
https://affectautism.com/2019/10/28/iep/
As always, if you have any questions, suggestions or comments, feel free to email me.
 
“See” you next Monday: same time, same place!

April 20, 2020

Hi caregivers,

 
Nice to see you all today.
 
One parent thanked us for going over how our children can benefit from sensory diet type activities every hour or so and another asked for the sensory processing profile checklist:

https://affectautism.com/2015/10/30/sensory-processing-profile/ if you scroll down you will see Sensory Profile Checklist box and click on that.

We went over all the free resources available out there again, which I’ve added here again:

 
http://icdl.com scroll down to parent resources
– one of our parents gave rave reviews about their experience using the Free consulting and Q&A and encouraged others to take advantage of these offers! I took the class, week 1, of the 3 hr $40 course and it’s great! Even if you pay now for weeks 2 and 3, you will see week 1 material and is well worth it
 
playproject.org free intro course if you enter PROMO code SPRING20
 
Floortime center videos
Blogs:
I mentioned some great blogs to follow about Floortime and they are listed on my site here:
 
Gil Tippy concrete vs. abstract concept
We also talked about Dr. Gil Tippy’s point about our children working from their memories (concrete thinking) to moving into the abstract world
 
and about how we need to promote higher thinking in our children:

https://affectautism.com/2016/07/19/developmental-ladder/

I also mentioned this fantastic program for adolescents and young adults. MAY I PLEASE SUGGEST THAT EVERYONE should read this, as he really highlights the GOALS we have for our children’s growth and development. It contains tips that we can all apply starting NOW.

Someone asked about resources for single parents? Another parent recalled hearing a podcast about it and I found the link:
https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/autism-blueprint/abp-episode-49-autism-pVWucdHRwS-/
We also talked about how it’s hard putting all the information we learn into practice so I suggested checking out the Floortime video reviews I’ve done with psychologist Dr. Andrea Davis:
https://affectautism.com/2016/02/02/podcast-with-dr-andrea-davis-about-her-users-guide-to-the-dir-model/
 
And a few more Floortime examples from my site:
 
“See” you all next Monday, same time, same place!

April 13, 2020

Hi caregivers,

 
It was great to see a lot of new faces today. We had a longer session today as well with the increased number of participants.
 
Since so many of you attending were there for the first time, I wanted to share a few general resources for you:
 
My website http://affectautism.com/start lists many videos and podcasts you can view sorted by topic. I suggest using this page to answer all of your questions until you’ve watched them all! haha.
 
CHANCE OF THE YEAR! FREE Floortime consulting from DIR Expert training leaders! Unheard of! From http://icdl.com home page, scroll down to parent resources during Covid-19:
Free Floortime Consultations for Parents

ICDL is offering up to 2 free virtual (live online) Floortime consultations for parents now through April 30, 2020 (space is limited). This is for parents that are either totally new to Floortime and want to begin to explore it or those that are early in exploring Floortime. Click here to schedule an appointment.

 

50% Off Floortime Coaching

ICDL offers virtual Floortime consultation and coaching through our therapy center currently. ICDL has mastered the use of online learning and supports and we are extending this service to families at 50% off the usual price now through May 31, 2020.

 

Only $40: 3 1-Hour sessions: Floortime “Crash Course” for Parents

This is a short “crash” course on implementing Floortime strategies at home during this time of social isolation and limited access to therapy services. This course is open to all parents, but this course is primarily targeted for parents whose children are receiving Floortime therapy services from a school or therapy center and now the parents are attempting to implement more at home on their own. Course will take place live online Thursdays 1:00-2:00PM US Eastern Time starting April 16, 2020. Read more and register by clicking here.

 

For on the Floor Video Series

Dr. Gil Tippy, a DIRFloortime Expert, is creating a series of short 4-minute videos on fun Floortime activities. Click here to watch these helpful short videos.

 
Tips for Supporting Your Child’s Emotional Health in a Time of Stress

Check out Jeff Guenzel’s blog posts. There are some good tips on supporting emotional health in this time of crisis.

 

Free Weekly Q&A Sessions

Jeffrey Guenzel, ICDL’s CEO, along with Floortime experts will host weekly one-hour live online sessions to simply answer any questions a parent has about ICDL, child development, Floortime, parenting, coping with the COVID-19 health crisis, or any related topic. Click here to sign up.

 
*** I highly, highly, highly recommend you take advantage of all of these offerings above!!!
 
Today we had a number of parents say that they were in ABA or other type of interventions that they were not happy with. One parent said since our isolation due to the coronavirus, she noticed how much her son was dependent now on prompts to do anything. On this topic there are a number of links, which one of the practitioners in our group said she would like to share with her clients who come in hearing that they should be getting ABA or expect her to be very strict and demanding with their child. Here are some links about why the Developmental Approach is more desirable, as well as why to choose it over ABA:
 
Gil Tippy’s For on the Floor series above!
Gil Tippy’s ABA Detox videos: https://affectautism.com/why-dirfloortime/ at the bottom of the page. There are 5 parts you can scroll through.
https://affectautism.com/2016/04/26/comprehensive/ (and see the link at the end of the blog post to Dr. Greenspan’s radio show is broken: use this https://www.icdl.com/parents/webradio/2009 Note he has a whole series on ABA and Dev’tal approaches)
My other website http://autismdata.org/
 
Someone also brought up Barry Prizant’s Uniquely Human. Here is the podcast we did:
 
Many parents said WHAT DO I DO? How do I start? How do I schedule my day? How much Floortime? How often? When? etc.
https://affectautism.com/2016/05/10/ideal-dirfloortime/ This blog includes the components of Floortime (structured, unstructured, Floortime, etc.)
 
You can do Floortime with these tips, including the For on the Floor videos from Dr. Tippy, above:
 
 
A few parents asked about boundaries and setting limits with their children:
 
Someone also brought up ASAN, adult autistic’s view and advocacy:
 
We also talked a lot about sensory issues that our children struggle with:
https://affectautism.com/2018/03/12/sensory-lifestyle/  We talked about providing children who “can’t feel their bodies” with deep pressure, as she discusses in this podcast
We talked about the STAR Institute in Denver: https://www.spdstar.org/
Also I mentioned this is a GREAT O.T. resource, although not “Floortime” https://theinspiredtreehouse.com/ and you can subscribe to their e-newsletter
Here are some of their blogs related to what we discussed today:
https://theinspiredtreehouse.com/alerting-sensory-input-for-kids/ (Note “alerting” activities for kids versus “calming”)
 
I also thought I had a brushing protocol, but I do not. I was thinking of something else. I found these links though:
 
And another resource about behavioural challenges at home:
 
That is a LOT! Hope it’s all helpful!
 
Until next Monday…

April 6, 2020

Hi caregivers,

 
Thank you to those who joined us today. It was a great turnout!
 
One of our parents brought up that it’s been more stressful this week and that when we are more stressed, it affects our kids. I did a couple of podcasts on this topic that you might find helpful:
 
Another parent has a child who loves making scrambled eggs every morning. But they don’t want to eat scrambled eggs every single morning and want to avoid the rigidity of a memorized, fast, rote activity that their child is insisting on doing every single morning. The child really likes the sensory input of stirring the consistency of the eggs.
 
We had a number of suggestions from participants:
  • Make a simple schedule up on the wall that the child can follow that shows which days are scrambled eggs days. Have the child help create the schedule and add other desired activities on other days (such as peeling potatoes, as mentioned by the parent) as outlined by Jake Greenspan in the Foodtime podcast I did: https://affectautism.com/2019/07/08/foodtime/
  • Set some rules: Limit # of eggs, or crack eggs ONLY when they’re decorated first, etc.
  • SLOW IT DOWN by using playful obstacles such as putting the eggs up high, hiding the oil, etc. so he can’t find the ingredients and then do Floortime to find the ingredients together, allowing him the time to initiate a response to you
  • Find some other sensory activities that provide the same experience such as mixing water and flour
Another parent wondered how to expand play with the child who only is interested in books, not toys, and only likes to flip the pages without absorbing all the content, even though the child seems to be understanding the story and can answer questions about the story
 
Again, we had a number of suggestions from participants, including our O.T.s who were in the session:
  • Play easy game of lights on / lights off; throw blanket on and off (contrast of dark/light), play bears in a cave, etc. to get to the child’s visual stimulation craving
  • Act out the story, have the characters (stuffed animals) take a turn reading the story such as enacting the story in the house – pages on the wall, walking through the squishy squish, etc. Replay the elements of the story in the house. First do exactly what the book says and then change one thing each time. Instead of fox footprints, do frog footprints, etc. and/or using other costumes or visuals when acting out stories
  • One parent found a “Moonlight attachment” for the phone to use for story time  (https://mymoonlite.com/where you turn the lights off in room then play out the story: spot where the light is, etc. and this parent also used a therapeutic brush on the child’s body, giving the child a sense of awareness on their body before story time with the lights so they’re more calm and into the story (i.e., getting regulated for the stories by providing sensory input)
  • Maude Le Roux, O.T. says if nothing else you can always give your child a deep pressure massage when they wake up and before they go to sleep to help regulation
  • Playful obstruction: When he’s rushing to turn pages, hold the page down saying “Oh my hand’s stuck, I can’t turn the page!” or pretend you’re falling asleep and put your head on the book so the child has to say or do something to express, “I want to turn the page” and/or turn the book upside down and say “Hmm…”
  • Take the story from 2-D to 3-D by using an actual toy to enact the book
  • Use books that have something to touch, open the windows (sensory books)
  • Are you WAITING for your child’s initiation and response? Make sure you’re always giving the child a chance to respond and interact with you rather than being an entertainer to your child
  • Sign up for FREE ICDL coaching (see link below)
  •  
  • See the podcast I did with Dr. Joshua Feder about repetition in autism for some useful techniques:  https://affectautism.com/2017/12/04/repetition-in-autism-therapy/
  • See the Early Literacy blogs I did about using books that have minimal and large text with pictures and using a page to cover the text you aren’t reading so the child can follow the line they are reading, etc.:
  • https://affectautism.com/2018/01/29/early-literacy/
  • https://affectautism.com/2018/02/26/early-literacy-part-2/
  • https://affectautism.com/2018/05/28/early-literacy-the-developmental-way-part-3/
  • https://affectautism.com/2018/11/19/early-literacy-4/
Just another reminder to take advantage of all the free resources online, including the free Floortime consultations and Q & A sessions offered by ICDL here: https://www.icdl.com/ Scroll down to Resources for Parents
 
As always, feel free to email me with any questions, concerns, or suggestions.
 
Until next Monday…