Friday, September 3, 2010
Portrait of a Floortime evening
There are two ways to do Floortime
The well known one is the the 20 – 30 minute session where the parent/therapist begins by observing the child and then follows the child's lead in order to create circles of communication and take the child up the developemental ladder
However there is another way
This is Floortime Philosophy as a lifestyle – this is the one that is practical for our family and the one we do most of the time !
Floortime as a lifestyle
So here goes an evening which elucidates how Floortime can be a lifestyle
Its 4.30 in the evening this Wednesday and I walk in after a day in the office - through the living room and coo at DH
R hears my voice and walks downstairs towards me
K : BIG smile ( Affect is Key in Floortime )
R: Smile back ( circle 1)
K : holding arms out - opening mouth as if to speak but not saying anything
R: My love!! ( this is a endearment which I usually say but because I paused - R prompts me to say( Circle 2) and an example of a Floortime strategy – Pausing with a look of expectation
K : kneels on floor
R: steps inside hug and puts his arms around K ( circle 3)
K – what you want to do ?
R – Go upstairs ( circle 3 )
R - mama sheeping ( ie I should go to sleep )
I go lie down on the bed ( circle 4 )
K – pretends to snore loudly
R – giggles and comments "Mama Snoring" ( circle 5 ) – an example of a child with very limited speech actually using declarative language which is very difficult for kids on the spectrum ... and is also a critical skill
This goes on for a while then
R shouts – "Wake up Mama "
K Jumps out of bed ( circle 10 )
And so the circles go back and forth continuously ( I am not writing more of these down as it would be too horribly boring to read )
We are able to incorporate pretend play
R brings all the trains ( Thomas the engine series ) to the bed and they go to sleep turn by turn and make snoring noises
Example, R puts Gordon to sleep .. and looks at me expectantly
I make snoring noises for Gordon
Then R wants to do the same for Henry
So he throws Gordon on the floor
I try several times to deepen the plot- expand the imaginative story line and try to create a logical idea and work on Level 6 skills
So I pretending that Gordon is hurt with a boo boo and needs a bandaid
But to no avail
This is classic Level 5 not being able to go to Level 6
So while pretend play ( symbolic thinking ) is present – its very primitive and there is not a long and logical set of connected ideas
If he had reached Level 6 thinking – hurt Gordon could have gone to the hospital and got a bandage and henry could have got him a get well soon card
Later when R is finished with his ABA therapist and is ready for dinner ( where I hand feed him a lot of veggies ) I have a chance for some Classic Floortime
I observe the scene he is watching which is Blues Clues episode with a breakfast and a song
I modify the song on the DVD to what we are doing
So when they are warbling "Don't forget about breakfast "
I sing "Don't forget about dinner "
And so we go on The DVD , R and me
R coos apraxically "put it in a bowla " ( in a happy coincidence we are eating dinner from a bowl and so is the character Steve in the show )
So we go on throughout the show – writing in a notebook ( when Steve brings out his "handy dandy notebook")
Modifying whatever they are doing to our purposes
R has a real sparkle in his eye
Everytime I start a session with observation of what he is interested in – I am reminded of how using the child's interests to start – is crucial for entering their world and then pulling him to a shared world
Floortime as a lifestyle
Bath and bed time is a time to switch back to general Floortime Style
I ask – what we want to start with , let R decide the routine , give options on soap ,, what towel , clothes to choose right up until bedtime
As you can see we are in a continuous flow of back and forth interaction easily slipping between the two types of Floortime – "Classic Floortime" and then "Floortime Lifestyle"
We simultaneously work on more than one developmental level and get very good Self regulation, engagement , Back and forth interaction , Symbolic thinking etc
We are constantly harnessing R' intent
We try to go a little bit ahead of where we are – we attempt Level 6 ( without success but its necessary to keep trying )
And we do all this for free and with a lot of fun
I hope I am not giving you the impression of being some sort of super mom –
This is an example of a real evening – but I have been conscious and deliberate or Floortime and Floortime Goals, in order to write this post and in fact I am struck by how much more I can and should do .
Many evenings I am slacker mom –
Today for instance – as soon as I arrived home – R wanted to go to Target – then the rest of the evening whittled away with nothing much achieved
But tomorrow is another day !
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Will you be giving an exam at the end of this excellent floortime course, Professor K?
I used to tell my students, every patient is a test. Probably, I think that is cleverer than anyone else who reads it (like my former students). When the 'test' is one's own child, then indeed an efficient (and effective) means of using floortime is within one's lifestyle. - Not unlike the 'diet' concept of using sensory experience, eh?
Thank you for the realistic ending - some evenings just go to Target - lol. Barbara
This is great! I especially love the greeting, so sweet :).
This is beautifully illustrative. I remember days of trying to show John how to pretend to drive a toy car, like this....
Thank you for taking the time to share the details - they are not boring; they are inspiring.
I loved reading this post. Thanks for putting that all down. When my son was very little we had ABA therapists come do home visits and I was able to mimic what they did. But I definitely don't do enough of that anymore.
We also have huge issues with pretend play but we ARE getting there.
Know what I love? The fact that this illustrates just how blessed your family is. How many kids are at home with vacant parents? Babysat by TV and microwaved meals. No interaction, no play, no "welcome inside my imagination".
I love how treasured you make our kids feel.
So when I read the floor time circles of communication it was really abstract, and you have given a concrete example and it made in easy for me to get. Please don't cut short your post on circle of communication it was not at all boring, it just clears up for other like me trying to include floor time for my DS.
Thank you so much for the kind comments you guys
Balaji - I wrote a post elaborating on circles of Floortime here
I love your sentiments. I quite agree. Thanks for your slice of beauty in my day.
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