Introduction To Floortime
One of the first things we learned about in dealing with a child with autism is that you have reach them where they are. You can't expect a child with autism to leave their world to enter ours, we have to make the effort and earn the reward of entering theirs.
In order to do this, we would come beside them and do what they were doing. So we put puppets on our feet and lay on our backs, dangling the puppets over our eyes, while our son did the same. We did what they did, to join in where they were. From there, we could gain a rapport and slowly encourage more and more circles of communication (back and forth interaction) as we follow their lead. That is a very basic goal and method in the DIR/Floortime model.
We had to basically study them, to learn how they make sense of things, so we could communicate with them in a way that would make sense to them. That meant using sign language and visual symbols, their favorite scripts from shows or dramas, whatever their favorite characters were, their special interests and preferred music, and later use all that in social stories.
We do all this because this is how they understand. And if you have a child with autism, there is nothing more that you want, than to be able to enter their world and communicate with them in a back and forth manner. You want to have a relationship with them and you do anything you can to make that happen.
Words alone, speaking alone was just that. Alone. A one sided conversation. They would be lost, thrust back to their own world if we did not stay entered into theirs.
Floortime In Our Communities
In the newly revised and expanded book, "Interrupted", Jen Hatmaker talks about reaching the people in our communities, in our circles of influence, she talks about this very thing: enter their worlds, live life with them and earn their friendship. It's like DIR/Floortime for our community!
"As missionaries have always understood, the key is to study the culture you are passionate about reaching and submerge into that space with respect and love." (p174)
Become one of them, do what they like, learn how they think...befriend them. Earn their trust and then we have a chance to introduce them to Jesus. Otherwise we have a one sided conversation and they are lost, thrust back in their own world because we did not stay entered into theirs.
"Discipleship is not a personal journey with few links to community; it exists for us to spur one another on toward libration and execute justice for those too trapped to free themselves. It is a lifestyle obsessed with the broken members of our human tribe: those living next to us, in our families, and everywhere someone is devalued. We have a mandate to liberate our fellow man, in every context. We are in this life together; we belong to one another. " (P176)
Live On Mission
It is our job to enter their world, earn their trust, build relationships with people in our community. "We have an innate craving to live on mission with God in the dangerous, exciting world. Out there is where we come to life, get over ourselves, are fed. Fulfillment exists in becoming a slave to everyone in order to win someone to Jesus. Discipleship was never simply about learning; it was constructed on living." (p.232)
Question For You
What ways do you engage with your community?
What ideas do you have to live life with your community in order to reach your community for Jesus?
What similarities do you see in reaching our children with autism, and reaching the community?