DIR Principles for Educational Programs

  • Children learn best through interaction and active learning processes and materials.
  • Children learn best through affective involvement and emotionally meaningful interactions.
  • Children learn best when they utilize multiple processing capacities simultaneously and have different ways to learn.
  • Children should not skip steps in the hierarchy of goals but should go back to foundation pieces.

The educational goals outlined above are based on four interrelated premises essential for their implementation. The first is the understanding of individual differences. The second is the central role affect plays in processing and learning. The third is the importance of process over content. The fourth is critical role of relationships in learning.

Program Principles and Best Practices:

For each child, individual goals must be identified that ensure that the child will learn to think, relate, and communicate at different developmental levels. To this end, certain principles and best practices must guide educational programming.

  • Programs should be designed for children, rather than fitting children into programs. This means having the flexibility to take into account each child's individual differences in sensory processing and regulation, rather than designing programs for specific categories of disabilities.
  • Programs should be comprehensive, providing a full range of educational services, including a continuum of inclusion service delivery options and special education, as well as therapeutic services - speech, occupational, physical, vision, music, art, and sensorimotor.
  • Programs should provide teachers trained to work with children with special needs individually, as well as with typical children in small groups and with parents.
  • Programs should provide teacher training, supervision, and mentoring as an ongoing developmental process so that teachers are informed about new and effective intervention strategies.
  • Programs should include parents in the education process as active participants interacting with their children.
  • Program should not be provided solely on the basis of a diagnosis. There is a wide range of individual differences among children identified as having ASD or PDD, pragmatic language disorders, multi system developmental disorders (MSDD) or regulatory disorders. Federal law has mandated services to all children demonstrating developmental delay without requiring specific diagnosis an ongoing process, including how the child responds to intervention, without the risk of diagnosis as a condition for receiving services.

The content of this page is based on chapter 13 of the ICDL Clinical Practice Guidelines, written by Serena Wieder, Ph.D. and Barbara Kalmanson, PhD. To read the complete text of chapter 13 click here.