Teaching Children with Autism, continued

Teaching Children with Autism, continued

Dr. Stanley Greenspan was interested in helping the child establish social/emotional relationships. In “Floortime,” his approach to the treatment of children with autism, he posited six functional developmental levels:

  1. Shared attention and attachment
  2. Engagement
  3. Two way communication
  4. Complex two-way communication
  5. Shared meanings and symbolic play
  6. Emotional thinking

At Levels 1 & 2 (Shared Attention and Engagement):

The child still prefers “comfort zone” activities

He/she can pay attention to, tolerate, and/or enjoy brief interactions:

There may be evidence of attachment

The child responds to comfort and attention

The child enjoys sensory-motor play

There is limited receptive language, e.g., the child turns to his or her name occasionally

Interactions are brief and/or inconsistent

At Levels 3 & 4 (Two-way Communication):

There is more sustained engagement: The child seeks attention, comforting; he/she imitates simple gestures

He/she initiates interactions based on needs/wants

He/she enjoys sensory-motor games

Receptive language is more consistently emerging

Gestures are combined with an increasing number of words

There is understanding of basic emotional themes, e,g., approval, alarm, etc.

At Level 5 (Shared Meanings):

The child communicates ideas through words

He/she engages in simple pretend play with adults

And in simple pretend play with children

He/she understands facial expressions

He/she responds to 1 & 2 step commands

There is emerging self concept (e.g., body parts)

There is a developing sense of humour

He/she spontaneously greets familiar people

At Level 6 (Emotional Thinking):

The child expresses and identifies own and others’ feelings

He/she recognizes a relationship between feelings, behaviour and consequences

There is more complex social dramas/play with themes

He/she takes someone else’s view

He/she is aware of social norms

He/she is aware of safety, time, the past, etc.

He/she talks in paragraphs

There are multiple sequences of interactions

Greenspan proposed to help the child negotiate these six developmental levels through play, starting with activities at the child’s “comfort zone,” i.e., those activities in which the child currently finds comfort whatever those activities might be, such as: lining up blocks, turning lights off and on, spinning things, making noises, deep pressure, etc., etc.

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