I wrote this post in April of 2007 and I came across it yesterday and thought I should resurrect it because there was some pretty good tips in here. I hope it proves helpful!
I went to an autism support group meeting on Tuesday night and it was about floor time. It was really informative so I thought a good way to share what I’ve learned would just to tell some simple tips that the other parents/experts shared at the meeting.
Here are some of the floor time tips:
- Follow your child’s lead, that’s what floor time is about. It’s interaction NOT instruction. In other words don’t be drilling your child about what sound a bird makes or what color is this or that, I’m terrible about this and I catch myself doing at almost every floor time.
- Be very animated, exaggerate your facial expressions and emotions.
- Use playful obstruction. You have to be careful with this one because you don’t want to push your child too far, this is supposed to be fun! An example of playful obstruction would be if your child’s “thing” is lining up objects you might put your hand in the way of him putting the next toy in line. This would create a need for him to communicate but if he’s getting to the point where he’s going to cry you might say “move mama” and move your hand.
- Celebrate any communication, whether he’s grabbing your hand and taking you somewhere (Yes! That is communication. He’s saying come with me!) or signing, or spoken words or an irritated sound or sigh when you use playful obstruction.
- Fall into your child’s rhythm. If he’s quietly playing with blocks you don’t need to rush up all excited and tickle him. Just come up quietly and play with blocks, that’s the role you should play as the follower, he’s the leader.
- Keep communication going, if he’s enjoying you putting something on top of your head and sneezing it off and he’s communicated for you to do it again than by all means keep it going.
- Play should be as natural as possible, just look for ways to get interaction with your child. Playing dumb or lazy can work well, for example, you’re in the middle of doing an activity that he really enjoys and needs you for…but all of a sudden you “fall asleep” and he has to wake you up to get to keep playing. Another example that I tried last night was when I put Adrian in the bath tub I left one of his socks on and plopped him in the water, he had to communicate with me that “hey mom you forgot this sock” he did that by lifting his foot out of the water and giving me some great (but confused) eye contact.
- Give them a choice, if they’re interested in playing with a puppet hold up two puppets and let them choose. This is different then instructing them, there is no right answer here, that’s the main thing. Choices are good, a choice will end in communication.
- Discuss their ideas, if they’re building blocks you might say “What are you building? Is it a house? Is it a school? etc..
I also jotted down a couple of books that the psychologist recommended they are “The Affect-based Language Curriculum (ABLC) By Dr. Greenspan and Lewis and the other one is “Relationship Development Intervention with Young Children” By Steven Gutstein and Rachelle Sheely.
I think floor time is wonderful. Every time I’ve done it I’ve had great eye contact from Adrian and I think he just knows I love him with that one on one time with no drilling him or trying to make him do stuff he doesn’t want to do.