For your child of any age, there are three steps you should take while practicing Floortime. Floortime may be used in the home, but it is helpful to have assistance from a clinician (such as a speech-language pathologist), especially at the beginning of the program.
1. The first step you will want to take should involve you acknowledging and exciting your child’s interests. Meeting and interacting with your child on his or her level will build trust and therefore a stronger relationship. Joining in their “emotional flow” is crucial, especially for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Without a strong human connection, your child will not respond correctly and the building blocks for language development will be lost.
2. The second step deals with challenging your child to be creative and spontaneous. If your child is playing with a stuffed animal, perhaps making it walk around on the floor, your next step would be to take another stuffed animal and put it directly in front of his or her animal. This action will force the child to respond and come up with a next move. He or she will be required to think creatively and use problem solving skills to get around the obstacle you created.
3. The third step should expand on your child’s actions to include multiple senses and motor skills while staying emotionally connected. For example, if your child has issues with a specific motor task such as brushing his or her teeth, try to incorporate toys that will work their fingers, such as coloring or playing with a doll’s hair. Keep in mind that the child must be interested in whatever activity you are engaging. The less receptive the child is, the more playful and interactive you need to be. Your goal is to keep a continuous emotional flow.
Emotional, social, and intellectual growth are all encouraged during Floortime. As long as you correctly practice these steps while keeping the child focused, he or she will develop strong language skills that can be used in everyday situations.