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What Is the DIR Method?

Learn about the DIR Method and how it can help a child with autism from pediatrician and child development expert Asma J. Sadiq, M.D. in this Howcast video.


Another common behavioral intervention that is used for children with a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder is the DIR method which stands for developmental individual difference relationship based model. And in this, it's a matter of making the connection with the child where the child takes the lead and the parent follows or the caregiver follows. And in that imitation or that joining of the child you actually make an emotional connection.

Making the connection, it's easier to then engage with the child. You can do that by blocking the activity. For example, if the child is taking a toy and repeatedly taking it back and forth, you can repeat the interaction until he engages and watches you and then you block him doing it. And it'll again get his interest so there is a connection that's been made and you can widen the play, widen the interaction. This is also known as floor time where you actually get to the level of the child. And this is a very interesting play based model that can be used in homes and is now also being incorporated in some schools.

DIR was developed by Dr. Stanley Greenspan, a wonderful child psychiatrist who worked very hard at the emotional connection piece and developed this with his team. There is some data of research that has been done showing that children trained with a DIR approach actually had much healthier or had healthy peer relationships and solid educational skills. So this was a kind of approach which was less structured and more open but there was a lot more generalization in a natural environment. And a lot of parents who like this concept of play and floor time, it really suits them. There are many books available that parents can read and also get training themselves with the DIR approach and look up specialized therapies who have been trained with that.

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