The DIR® Institute

ICDL's Flagship International DIR Floortime Institute

The DIR® Institute is a revolutionary institute focused on guiding and educating parents about how to implement a DIR program and how to utilized Floortime techniques and strategies.

For many years, Autism and other developmental challenges have been viewed as behavioral disorders. This is simply not correct. We understand so much more about Autism and other developmental challenges now and we know that there is much more we can do to promote development than simply to focus on external behaviors or to simply train children to learn discrete skills. Using a “whole child” approach, we can improve behaviors in a much more meaningful and lasting way by improving a child’s core functioning. The key is to get to the core of the issues and not just to focus on the surface behaviors. Here at ICDL, we use an inside-out philosophy that effectively gets to the core functioning issues. The added bonus is that we do it using a joyful, playful, and respectful process that everyone loves.

The DIR® Institute is also a central component of ICDL's research and professional development programs. ICDL is committed to continually expand the world' knowledge and understanding of DIR. DIR is a well-established and evidence-based approach that has been utilized for over 30 years. While DIR is well established and has fundamental principles that have not changed, the approach continues to develop as our understanding through clinical practice, science, and listening to perspectives from the autistic self-advocacy community expands. The DIR® Institute gives families the opportunity to learn Flootime from top experts that know the deep roots of the model and also are well-versed on the latest science and research.

ICDL welcomes families from throughout the United States and internationally. Please contact us at institute@icdl.com if you have any questions or would like more information. We look forward to serving you.

Free Virtual Floortime Consultations for Parents

ICDL offers individualized virtual (live online) Floortime consultations for parents. This is for parents that are new to Floortime or parents that know about Floortime but are interested in learning about developing a DIR® Home Program. This is a unique opportunity to individually meet with a Floortime expert to gain insights and explore implementing Floortime strategies with your child. We will happily review videos of you interacting with your child to discuss his or her functional emotional development and to explore the Floortime parent coaching process so you can see how parent coaching and a Floortime program can help. Click here to see available times and to schedule an appointment (This is limited to one consultation per family and space is limited and available on a first come first serve basis).

Services

DIR® Home Program

Autism and Child Development Home Programs with Parent Education and Coaching. This service coaches parents on how to create and implement an effective DIR Floortime® Home Program. This is available to families anywhere in the world! You can sign up for a free consultation to learn more or you can sign up online for the DIR Home Program today on our Schedule an Appointment page.

Prices

3-Month DIR Home Program is $1,125 USD payable in 3 monthly payments of $375 each

ICDL is a not-for-profit and all of our services are offered at the lowest possible prices we can manage. If you are interested in any services and the prices we discuss with you are not feasible for you, please let us know. While we have to keep our organization financially viable, we are driven by our mission, not by making profits. We will work with any family in need to make our services as accessible as possible.

Who do we serve?

We serve the parents and caregivers of children, teens, and young adults. Most of the children are diagnosed with autism or have other developmental challenges, but the services are for all children whether considered neurotypical or neurodiverse. The Developmental, Individual-differences, and Relationship-based model (DIR®) is our guiding philosophy. We believe every child has incredible potential and through an engaging and respectful process, we can help you help your child achieve success others may have told you is not possible.

Floortime Coaching for Parents

The best way to learn how to implement Floortime with your child is through coaching. We can provide parent coaching in our center and/or to anyone anywhere in the world through our live online platform. The cost is reasonable and the process is very effective. Do you want to try it out? Sign up for a free 1-hour consultation and then send us a link to a video of you playing with your child(ren). We'll then provide some initial coaching right away in that first hour!

Everyday Floortime

Floortime All the Time and Everywhere

Did you know Floortime can be done anywhere? We will help you learn skills that can be used in the house, backyard, supermarket, and at the playground. Also, you do not need a professional in your home for hours on end. This is something you can do at home with your child while engaging in every day events and tasks.

  • Floortime can include everyone - other children, siblings, peers, parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, teachers, etc.

  • Floortime can be done at any time of the day - after supper, in the bathtub, or cuddling in bed!

  • Floortime can be done in the car, when doing laundry, eating breakfast, getting dressed, and washing the dishes – ALL THE TIME, EVERYWHERE.

Our team of experts will help you challenge and expand your child’s development through a respectful, playful, and joyful process that will keep your child engaged. The key requirement is that you and your child enjoy these moments!

Health Insurance Coverage

We are accept most NJ Family Care and OPWDD with New York State for both of our Intensive Floortime Program and DIR Home Program. If you are a member of either program, please contact us directly to help with your registration process. We are an in-netowrk provider with many US health insurance companies, but most do not cover our DIR Home Program or Intensive service package. We hope this will change with time, but for right now, most families are paying for our services on their own.

DIR is Evidence-Based

Click here to read a short summary of the recent research and guidance supporting DIR.

Our Philosophy

We believe every individual has the potential to grow and develop. We also understand the important role parents, caregivers, and families have in raising, supporting, and teaching a child with developmental difficulties. Through a DIRFloortime® approach, we help families gain insights into their child’s development and functioning. Through these insights, families then are empowered to take real action to help their child reach his or her fullest potential.

What Makes Floortime Work?

The D.I.R. Floortime approach is based on the fact that emotion and social-emotional experiences (relationships and interactions with others) are critical to the growth of the mind and brain. For many people with developmental challenges such as Autism, social-emotional experiences can be challenging. In Floortime, we get this emotional process going by first “following the child’s lead.” (Please note, this applies to adolescents, young adults, and even adults as well.) Following your child's lead means following his or her interests and strengths that are driven by their emotions.

  • What interests your child?

  • What makes your child feel happy, sad, frustrated, withdrawn, etc.?

  • What makes your child meltdown or tantrum?

  • What struggles does your child experience at home, in school, or out in the community?

Whatever it is, your child's interest is your clue. It is your window into what he or she is feeling and thinking. We can help you learn how to follow your child's lead to help them overcome what may be most difficult or may be holding them back.

American Academy of Pediatrics

In a January, 2020 report by the American Academy of Pediatrics entitled "Identification, Evaluation, and Management of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder", they stated, "Intervention for young children also may be derived from developmental theory, which is focused on the relationship between the caregiver’s level of responsiveness and the child’s development of social communication.296,318320 Through interaction with others, children learn to communicate and regulate emotions and establish a foundation for increasingly complex thinking and social interaction. Therefore, developmental models designed to promote social development in children with ASD are focused on the relationship between the child with ASD and his or her caregiver through coaching to help increase responsiveness to the adult (ie, the interventionist or parent or caregiver) through imitating, expanding on, or joining into child-initiated play activities. This approach may address core symptoms of ASD, such as joint attention, imitation, and affective social engagement.296,297,321,322

Developmental models for intervention are focused on teaching adults to engage in nondirective interactive strategies to foster interaction and development of communication in the context of play. One such approach is known as DIRFloortime (The Developmental, Individual Differences, and Relationship-Based model). " Click here to view the full report.

We have found that often times Pediatricians are not as familiar with DIRFloortime since it is a newer approach than ABA. The inclusion of Floortime in this report can be very helpful information as you discuss your options with your pediatrician.

Our Leadership

Jeffrey Guenzel, Professional Counselor and Executive Director of ICDL. Mr. Jeffrey Guenzel has been the CEO of ICDL since 2013. Before joining ICDL, Mr. Guenzel held key leadership positions in state government and served as an executive director of a very successful not-for-profit. Mr. Guenzel is a professional counselor that has dedicated his career to serving children and families.

In his most recent appointments prior to joining ICDL, Mr. Guenzel was the Deputy Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families and previously served as the Director of the New Jersey Division of Child Behavioral Health. In these positions, he led many innovative initiatives including restructuring the service delivery system for children with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Prior to his appointments with the State of New Jersey, Mr. Guenzel was the inaugural Executive Director of a not-for-profit agency providing Wraparound care management services for children with complex behavioral health challenges. Under his leadership, the agency became one of the largest Wraparound agencies in the United States gaining him national recognition. As a result, Mr. Guenzel has presented at national conferences, provided technical assistance to developing Wraparound organizations, and has served as an advisor for the National Wraparound Initiative.

As a Professional Counselor, Mr. Guenzel has specialized in children and adolescents. He has worked as a clinician at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey as well as in private practice. Mr. Guenzel earned his B.A. degree in psychology and his M.A. degree in Counseling from Montclair State University. Mr. Guenzel provides ICDL and the DIR Institute with a valuable combination of clinical knowledge and skills coupled with a proven track record of successful leadership. Underpinning these skills is a life-long commitment to serving children and advancing positive interventions that make a difference in the lives of children and their families.

Dr. Gil Tippy, Clinical Psychologist and Chief Clinical Advisor. Dr. Gil Tippy is a world-leading expert in developmental approaches to intervention for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). He has over 30 years of experience as a teacher and psychologist and is a founder of the renowned Rebecca School in New York City the founding Co-Head of School and Head of Clinical Services at the Shrub Oak International School. He is a co-author, with Dr. Stanley Greenspan, of “Respecting Autism,” which defines the highly successful use of developmental, individual difference, relationship-based principles of DIRFloortime. He has consulted with special education schools and programs in the U.S. and internationally, and regularly speaks at professional conferences on the subject.

Courtney St. Germain, MS, OTR/L, DIR at Livingston Program Coordinator and Expert DIRFloortime Training Leader. Courtney is an Occupational Therapist who graduated from Brenau University in 2012 with her Master's Degree in Occupational Therapy. She has worked with early intervention, preschool, and school aged children. Her career began when she accepted a position at an outpatient sensory clinic, which placed a large emphasis on motor development and a sensory integrative approach to practice for children with developmental delay, autism, and sensory integration disorder. Courtney utilizes a family-centered approach in order to ensure carryover and maximum knowledge of sensory integrative techniques, oral motor/feeding strategies, and graded activities that promote fine motor development and self-care skills. Her treatment strives to promote age appropriate function and engagement in activities of daily living, play, and social participation. Courtney is certified in DIR Floortime as an Expert Training Leader, Sensory Motor Assessment and Intervention, Therapeutic Listening: Listening with the Whole Body, Picky Eaters vs. Problem Feeders: SOS Approach to Feeding, and Handwriting Without Tears.

Dr. Gerard Costa, Developmental Psychologist and Clinical Consultant. Dr. Gerard Costa is the founding director of the Center for Autism and Early Childhood Mental Health at Montclair State University. He is a DIRFloortime Expert and Training Leader. He trained directly under Dr. Stanley Greenspan and has been a faculty member at ICDL for many years. Dr. Costa is a recognized expert on autism and early childhood development. He has authored many publications and has trained professionals throughout the United States and in many countries around the world.

ICDL at Livingston is located at 5 Regent Street, Suite 508, Livingston, NJ 07039