To engage in these Floortime interactions, following the child’s lead on the one hand and on the other challenging the child to master each of their new milestones, we have to do something very, very important—we have to tune into their individual processing differences! If a child is under-reactive to touch and sound, we have to be very energetic to pull the child into a shared world. If a child is over-sensitive to touch and sound where they hold their ears and get overwhelmed easily, we have to be extra soothing while still being compelling. Many children have mixtures of over- and under-reactivity so we have to be soothing and energizing and compelling. For instance, if they are under-reactive but sensitive to sound, we use a soft but compelling voice, whispering, “Here! Here!”
We have to pay attention to their auditory processing and language abilities. We don’t want to simplify by slowing down the cadence of our words or speaking in monotones (or not speak at all!) because they process words slowly and need help to tune in. Instead we keep a normal rhythm because that is more pleasurable and easier for a child to digest. We can use simple phrases and repeat them. If we are saying “open the door,” it’s not in a monotone voice, “ooopen, ooopen,” but in a sing-song voice, “Open door? Open?” and showing the child. It’s with energy and rhythm but with simple phrases. With visual spatial processing, some children have good visual memory but can’t see the forest for the trees. They are not yet good visual problem solvers. We can use lots of visual cues in their visual memory skills to help them share our world. Many children have motor planning and sequencing problems. Here we start with simple actions and go to more complex action patterns.
We have to tune into the child’s individual differences in order to challenge them to master their different levels.
Learn more about Dr. Stanley Greenspan and the Greenspan Floortime approach. If you are new, we have a background and introduction to Greenspan Floortime including how it helps special needs children. We also have Greenspan Floortime training courses at Floortime U. specifically designed for parents and professionals including the Floortime Manual.