Parents & Caregivers
Information and Supports for Parents and Caregivers
We at ICDL know that when a parent is searching the web, there are probably more questions and emotions present than any web page could ever address. We know that most parents are reading our website because they are looking for answers to help their child. There may be an autism diagnosis or a parent may have been told that their child has a "special need." It can be a very difficult, complicated, confusing, and draining process as a parent to seek out answers and resources. We have found though, that no matter the exact situation or diagnosis, there is one common theme that parents come to us with - they want their child to be happy and healthy and they want to know how best to help their child continually strive towards their fullest potential. DIRFloortime has been used for over 50 years and the results from clinical practice and research have shown how well it helps promote child development. In particular, it can be a game-changer when a child has a developmental challenge such as autism. Bottom line: It works! At one time in the past, all we had were behavioral approaches such as ABA. These approaches clearly do not provide all the answers and have significant limitations. Many Autistic self-advocates and autism experts have also spoken out strongly about a wide range of negative effects of ABA. As we have learned more about child development, we have learned how effective developmental and relationship-based methods like DIRFloortime can be. It is a huge step beyond just controlling behaviors. It is about promoting growth and development in a deep and meaningful way.
DIR® Home Program: A Parent Coaching Service
This is a 12-week program offered through ICDL's DIR® Institute provides direct parent coaching on implementing DIR and Floortime at home with your child or children. The weekly coaching sessions are provided via Zoom with Floortime experts from the DIR Institute.
Learn About Floortime: DIR 101 Introductory Course
ICDL offers DIR 101: An Introduction to DIR and Floortime to both parents and professionals. This can be a great way to learn about Floortime. It is a 12-hour live lecture-based course taught by Floortime experts, with many video examples. There are many live-online and in-person options.
What is Autism?
There are many misconceptions about autism that are presented to parents every day. Autism is defined as a neurodevelopmental disorder. This means it relates to the development of the nervous system and that there are neurological and biological differences that impact development. While some of these differences can be observed in behaviors, autism is not a behavioral disorder. The goal in supporting development and learning for ALL children, including those on the autism spectrum, begins with understanding their unique neurological and biological differences and then integrating this information with a deep understanding of how all children develop and learn. When this is done, parents can effectively help their children develop and learn and overcome the challenging aspects of developmental differences such as autism while embracing and appreciating them for the unique and beautiful people they are.
Free Virtual Floortime Consultations for Parents
ICDL offers individualized virtual (live online) Floortime consultations for parents. This is for parents who are new to Floortime or who know about Floortime but are interested in learning about the DIR® Home Program or the Floortime Intensives at the international DIR® Institute. This is a unique opportunity to individually meet with a Floortime expert to gain insights and explore implementing Floortime with your child. We will happily review videos of you interacting with your child to help you gain insights into 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).
Floortime Intensives at the International DIR® Institute
The DIR® Institute at Livingston is a revolutionary institute focused on teaching parents DIR Floortime in an intensive, hands-on program. At the DIR® Institute at Livingston families come for the week-long intensive programs with their children and receive coaching from top experts from ICDL. It is an amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn and grow. Your family will leave the intensive with an amazing sense of accomplishment and growth, for both you and your child.
Free Parent Support With Affect Autism: Parents helping Parents
These are drop-in support meetings to support families using Floortime. Parenting a child with differences can be challenging, but it can still be filled with lots of joy and love. Daria Brown from Affect Autism leads these sessions. Daria is a parent and holds an Advanced Certificate in DIRFloortime. Come to one or come to all...it is up to you. Start at any point. We are here for you when you need support, guidance, or just to share stories and experiences. See schedule here.
The DIR Provider DIRectory
Do you need to find a Floortime professional? Find professionals, schools, an other centers and organizations that work within a DIR framework and/or use DIRFloortime within their professional practice and services.
This is a wonderful parent page that is sponsored by ICDL. Affect Autism is for parents by parents. Incredible podcasts, video interviews, free support meetings, and much, much more.
There are many incredible resources on the internet and in many communities that can help parents. We encourage you to take a look at the resources and information shown below and see what makes sense to you as a parent.
Self-regulation is different than self-control. Read this helpful guide on Self Regulation by Stuart Shanker
Children with special needs have a variety of biological challenges that affect their ability to function. Although there are many ways to describe these individual differences, for the purpose of considering how they influence development it is useful to divide them into three types.
Difficulty with sensory reactivity. The child may have difficulty with modulating information received from the world through their senses of vision, hearing, touch, smell, taste, and body awareness (i.e., the child may be under reactive or over reactive, or a combination).
Processing difficulty. The child may have difficulty making sense of the sensory data they receive. For example, a child’s hearing may be keen but they may not be able to distinguish sounds in the foreground from sounds in the background.
Difficulty with motor planning and sequencing. The child may have trouble making their body move the way they want, and difficulty planning and executing responses to information they have taken in. For example, a child may be interested in cars but may only be able to put them in a line rather than play out a purposeful sequence where the cars drive along the road and park at the store.
Each type of challenge makes it difficult for the child to relate to and communicate with their parents and caregivers and thus impedes their ability to learn, respond, and grow. Therefore, to help a child progress, we must understand how they function in each of these areas. Once we have pinpointed his specific challenges, we can begin to design treatment programs to ameliorate them. An effective support program includes helping parents and caregivers learn how to work around these challenges to help the child learn, relate, and grow, and discover their unique interests and strengths.
American Academy of Pediatrics
In a January 2020 report by the Council on Children with Disabilities, Section on Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics of the American Academy of Pediatrics entitled "Identification, Evaluation, and Management of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder," 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.
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 their 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.
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).
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.
Hyman SL, Levy SE, Myers SM; COUNCIL ON CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES, SECTION ON DEVELOPMENTAL AND BEHAVIORAL PEDIATRICS. Identification, Evaluation, and Management of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder. Pediatrics. 2020 Jan;145(1):e20193447. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/145/1/e20193447