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Floortime Therapy for Autistic Children

You must have heard or read about Floortime therapy. What is it and how can it help autistic children? This blog tells you all that and more.

Importance of Playtime

The significance of playtime for children is self-evident. Bonding, having a great time, and opportunities to learn new concepts, such as sharing, are all key parts of the parent-child connection. Did you know that this has a major impact on their brain? 

Playtime helps in Cognitive Development and promotes Emotional and Behavioral Development among kids at a very early stage. As they learn to explore, think about challenges, and relate to others, their confidence grows. Children learn through directing their own play. They also learn by participating in adult guided play. Hands-on engagement in activities that they choose is another way they learn.

Floortime Therapy in Autistic children

Children on the autism spectrum may have difficulties in social interactions, developing relationships, communication and levels of stimulation in activities. To break these boundaries, experts have identified ‘Floortime therapy’ to be beneficial. 

This is a relationship-based therapy for autistic children where parents or caregivers get on the floor with the child to play and interact in the given setting. The child leads the activity while the parent or caregiver follows their lead. This provides an opportunity for the child to develop communication skills and explore ideas while leading the activity. 

This modality does not focus solely on speech, motor, or cognitive skills. It solves these challenges by emphasizing emotional development.

How Does it Work? 

Parents and caregivers can carry out floortime therapy at home. For this purpose, they can take training from professionals. The sessions last between from 2 to 5 hours. The duration depends on the developmental signs exhibited by the child. 

Floortime sessions can take place anywhere to promote engagement and a shared reality, such as:

  • Home
  • Therapy office
  • Daycare
  • Preschool
  • Car and many more places!

Anyone, including parents, classmates, and siblings, can participate in it at any time of day. The key here is that those who participate in it, enjoy themselves! It is a constructive and enjoyable way to improve communication. 

Being present is what floortime therapy is all about. It entails paying attention to your child’s current situation. Observe what fascinates your child, and what activity they indulge in while keeping agendas, behavior and teaching out of the session. Focus on what the child is experiencing at that very moment. 

For example, Your child is rolling a ball back and forth. This displays a sense of calmness in the child while doing the activity. The parent or caregiver can help the child by assisting to roll the ball or play catch and build interaction. 

History of Floortime Therapy

Dr. Stanley Greenspan and Dr. Serena Weider developed floortime therapy. It became more popular in the early twenty-first century.

Floortime therapy evolved into the Developmental, Individual Difference, Relationship-Based model of intervention (DIR) over time. This allowed practitioners to be trained and formal research studies to be conducted to determine effectiveness. Thanks to this, Floortime Therapy is a more complete program. We are able to see more trained practitioners, coaches, teachers and parent/guardian. Training is easily available. There is more research happening, with a growing number of studies showing beneficial outcomes.

Difference between Floortime Therapy & ABA

The key distinction between Floortime therapy and ABA is that Floortime is naturally enjoyable. It uses behavior modification strategies while tuning in to a child’s individual interests. At its core, Floortime therapy is more personalized than ABA. The focus of this is far more on emotional connection and development. In contrast, behavior is the main focus of ABA.

Floortime therapy is Child-led while ABA is Therapist-led. Interestingly, although Floortime is an alternative to ABA, it is often used in combination with ABA. Floortime therapy requires a convenient and relaxed setting. ABA is carried out in professional settings.

Both approaches have effective outcomes for children depending on the setting they are implemented at. 


Floortime therapy is not just for children who are nonverbal. Or only for those building upon higher-level social skills. It is for all kids, regardless of where they are on the autism spectrum. Depending on the child’s needs, it is implemented as part of a larger therapeutic plan that includes speech therapy, occupational therapy and more. Gains made in floortime therapy is carried over to other areas of therapy.

Finally, implementing floortime practices into your daily routine can be a fun way for you and your child to bond while playing. You may assist your child in their communication skills to their maximum potential throughout the process.

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