Floor time helps Xander very much. It is an approach explained in detail
in the book The Child With Special Needs by Drs.Stanley Greenspan and Serena Wieder.
This is what they wrote about floor time:
"Floor time is precisely that: a 20-to-30 minute period when you get
down on the floor with your child and interact and play."
When Xander's special educator described floor time, I thought it
would be easy. It was getting down and playing with your child for
a half an hour straight. I thought I'd been doing that, but I soon learned
that I hadn't. This was one-on-one time with no interruptions, where you
follow your child's lead. That means that you play what they want to play.
But it doesn't mean that you're passive. In fact, your job is often to interrupt
For example, if he is playing with a toy car, you can bring other toy
cars and race or crash into your child's car. The purpose of floor time
is to get your child to interact with you. Interaction often leads to
How do you get started doing floor time? Pick a time during the day
when you know you will have 30 minutes to play with your child. If you can only do
this once a day, feel good about getting it done. If you can do it more often, that
You don't need to plan lots of educational activities with your child. Remember,
the point is to follow his lead. For us, floor time is a very low-key
time. Don't pull your child out of an activity, but join him in his activity,
whatever the activity is. Xander spends a lot of time rearranging our
video tapes. When he's doing this, he loses contact with everything around
him; it's a perservative activity. So, I make sure he has to notice me by
rearranging the tapes he's rearranging. Sometimes he gets mad, but now
he usually recognizes it as a game and interacts.
What are some ways you can involve yourself in your child's play? Look for
clues about what he needs. Does he need a lot of motion? Try swinging him or playing games that
require motion, like "Ring-Around the Rosie". There are a lot of cues in your
child's daily behavior, look for them.
Creativity will be your best friend. Children with special needs often
resist floor time at first. Xander enjoys being in his own little world,
and at first, he didn't want us forcing him to join our world. But now
he looks forward to our interactions. But sometimes we had to be creative
about joining him. Be imaginative. If your child is lining up his cars, and
you've tried racing and crashing, but he still won't interract, think of
Patience will be a necessity. Things move slowly. You probably won't notice many
changes the first few times you try floor time. In fact, things may seem
to get worse. Your child may protest. But look at the protest as a way
of interacting. He's communicating with you, even if it's not in the way you'd prefer.
It takes time, and it will be frustrating. But slowly, you will notice small
improvements. You will begin to know your child better. One of the most
frustrating things about children with special needs is that it is harder
to find their personalities under all their difficulties. As you play side-by-side
with your child, and as he interacts with you, you will see a whole new side to
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