Asperger's Syndrome In Children – An Innovative New Treatment Called Floortime

There are many possible avenues to choose from when one is considering a treatment for a child with Asperger's syndrome (sometimes referred to as Asperger's disorder or pervasive development disorder). Some treatments are valid, some are not; some are based on medication or nutrition, and others on behavior modification. It is up to each parent and their child's doctor to choose the best treatment, or combination of treatments, for their child with Asperger's syndrome. One form of treatment that has been getting a lot of attention lately is called floortime.

What is floortime?

Floortime is a model of treatment that was developed by Stanley Greenspan. The central idea in this theory is that you should connect with a person with Asperger's or autism at the level they are at — by using any of their interests or abilities that they may have to build a bridge and create a relationship.

Greenspan believes that a lot of the deficits in autism relate from problems in the emotional development of kids with Asperger's. If you interact with kids in a certain way, he says, you can help their emotional and cognitive development, and help them to better be part of the world around them.

Floortime is literally just like it sounds. Parents or caregivers get down on the floor and try to engage the child in whatever way they can. If they are playing with a toy, even in a ritualistic and repetitive way, grab another toy and mimic their movements. Copy what they're doing. Find a way to enter their world and make them notice you in a way that allows them to remain comfortable. This works better than trying to force the child into your world and can allow you to gradually help build a relationship.

What is the theory behind floortime?

Greenspan believes that kids with Asperger's are so sensitive to external stimuli at an early age that they block it out and therefore miss out on a lot of learning and early milestones that attention to that stimuli would have provided. For example, a mother putting her face near her baby's may be overwhelming, so the infant moves his head; tickling is scary rather than fun. The child starts to disengage from his parents at an early age, not because they're doing something wrong or because of a lack of capacity to feel love, but because of sensory overload.

As a result of this, the child doesn't learn things from the mother's face and the relationship with the mother that he should, such as empathy, relating to others, and understanding emotions. This leads to difficulty in communication, playfulness, humor and flexibility. But Greenspan believes that the use of floortime can recreate that relationship, and teach the child with autism or Asperger's syndrome all these skills that he missed when he was young; thus paving the way for higher level skills.

How does floortime work?

As mentioned before, floortime is about parents and caregivers finding non-overwhelming ways to engage their kids. Some therapies tell you toget into your kid's face and force them to interact with you. Greenspan believes this will just make them shut down more. So how does this work? If a child won't look at you but instead just flaps and lines up cars, get down on the floor and line up cars with him. You are meeting him at his level.

Don't move too fast, or talk; this way the child can feel another person there and begin to understand what interactive play is.

If the child is verbal, ask him questions that require answers. Follow his lead and talk about whatever he is talking about.

Keep it low pressure; just a simple exchange of words.

What is important is that your kid is interacting with you and learning about emotions, about connection and intimacy, piece by piece, while doing so.

What are the main goals of floortime?

The main goals of floortime are to encourage attention and intimacy; to have two-way communication; to have your child begin to express his desires and feelings about what he is doing; and finally to develop logical thought, where the child can connect his play to the world around him, and use it to help make sense of the world.

Floortime can be a useful treatment for children with Asperger's syndrome or autism, especially if used in addition to other Asperger's disorder treatments.

In addition to floortime, there are many other treatments which can help your loved one live a fulfilling and happy life.

If you want your loved one to be happy and succeed in life learn about Asperger's solutions. Don't just survive with Asperger's, thrive.

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