Early Intervention


Developmental Interventions


Greenspan and others have created a developmentally based intervention for early intervention with infants and children with disabilities, titled Developmental Individual-Difference, Relationship-Based Model (DIR). This is also commonly referred to as the “Floor Time” approach (Greenspan, 1998).

Floor Time is based upon Stanley Greenspan’s theories of six functional milestones necessary for a child to succeed in further learning and development. According to Greenspan (1998), these are:

  • The dual ability to take an interest in the sights, sounds and sensations of the world and to calm oneself down.
  • The ability to engage in relationships with other people. The ability to engage in two-way communication with gestures.
  • The ability to create complex gestures, to string together a series of actions into an elaborate and deliberate problem-solving experience.
  • The ability to create ideas.
  • The ability to build bridges between ideas to make them reality-based and logical.

DIR/Floor Time includes interactive experiences, which are child directed, in a low stimulus environment, ranging from two to five hours a day. During the preschool program, DIR/Floor Time includes integration with typically developing peers. Greenspan contends that interactive play, in which the adult follows the child’s lead, will encourage the child to ‘want’ to relate to the outside world. Furthermore, Greenspan (1998) stipulates that the program should begin as soon as the child is identified as the longer children are uncommunicative, the more difficult parents find relating to them and the more the children withdraw.

Relationship Development Intervention (RDI)

RDI was developed by Dr. Steven Gutstein as a parent-based treatment using dynamic intelligence. The goal of RDI is to improve the individual’s long-term quality of life by helping them improve their social skills, adaptability and self-awareness. The six objectives of RDI are:

  • Emotional Referencing: The ability to use an emotional feedback system to learn from the subjective experiences of others.
  • Social Coordination: The ability to observe and continually regulate one’s behavior in order to participate in spontaneous relationships involving collaboration and exchange of emotions.
  • Declarative Language: Using language and non-verbal communication to express curiosity, invite others to interact, share perceptions and feelings and coordinate your actions with others.
  • Flexible thinking: The ability to rapidly adapt, change strategies and alter plans based upon changing circumstances.
  • Relational Information Processing: The ability to obtain meaning based upon the larger context; Solving problems that have no right or wrong solutions.
  • Foresight and Hindsight: The ability to reflect on past experiences and anticipate potential future scenarios in a productive manner.

The program involves a systematic approach to working on building motivation and teaching skills, focusing on the child’s current developmental level of functioning. Children begin work in a one-on-one setting with a parent. When they are ready, they are matched with a peer at a similar level of relationship development to form a dyad. Gradually additional children are added to the group and the number of settings in which children practice in order to help the child form and maintain relationships in different contexts.