There are many different models or approaches to working with children on the autism spectrum. For this particular post, I chose DIR & RDI because I remember being thoroughly confused when first trying to research our options, thinking perhaps people were just mixing up the letters. So what do these letters stand for and what is the basis behind each method? Well, I’m so glad you asked!
DIR stands for the Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationship-Based Model, which focuses on mastery of the stages of development. Floortime is one part of this approach, and as such it is “both a specific technique…and a specific philosophy that characterizes all daily interactions with the child.” This quote comes from the most recently published book on the DIR/Floortime method, Engaging Autism:
The goal of treatment within the DIR/Floortime model is to build foundations for healthy development, rather than to work only on surface behavior and symptoms. With this approach, children learn to master critical abilities missed or derailed along their developmental path.
The Floortime Foundation - foundation partnered with the ICDL. Their tagline, “Reaching beyond autism,” reflects their focus on early intervention regardless of a diagnosis.
Note: In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I am highly enthusiastic about this method since it has been so effective for our son and fit so well with our family style. Every child (and every family) is different, however, and each must find the approach or approaches that work best for their unique situation.
RDI stands for the Relationship Development Intervention Program. It was developed by Dr. Steven Gutstein in response to the “missing piece” he was not seeing in the children he had treated with a behavioral approach; he calls this piece Dynamic Intelligence. On his website, Connections Center, he states:
The goal of the RDI Program is to provide the majority of people on the autism spectrum with the potential to attain a true quality of life.