DIR Level 3 At A Glance: Two-Way Communication
This post is part of a series, taking a quick look at each developmental level, according to the work of Stanley Greenspan and Serena Wieder in their DIR/Floortime framework. As a child grows, they add new skills to what they learned in the previous levels. You can find the list of related posts here.
Communication is so much more than speech! A lot of our everyday communication involves non-verbal communication, such as body language, facial expressions, and gestures.
A common feature of autism, whether the person speaks or not, is a difficulty understanding and interpreting non-verbal communication. Even if a child uses words, it’s not uncommon for them to have problems with the nonverbal parts of communicating. We use nonverbal communication to understand wants and desires, recognize emotions, and get a sense of how others feel about us. So it’s important to keep working on that too!
- start an interaction and then fail to continue,
- show they don’t know what they wanted to say,
- use echolalia (repeating memorized words or sentences) as a way to interact. They might want you to repeat words back to them.
- suddenly stop communicating or wander away.
- communicate to get needs met, rather than to share experiences
If these things happen, it just means they are working right on the edge of what they are capable of right now. Don’t give up! Give them some support, and they will continue to grow. This is just a stage in their journey towards communicating their own thoughts.
- Engage her in pleasurable activities
- Activate senses to get his whole body involved
- Be silly! Accentuate emotions with gestures/facial expressions
- Respond to all communication as though she means it
- Play simple people games like peek-a-boo or chase
- Play “verbal ping-pong” – mimic the child, introducing small variations
- try giving directions or hints using gestures or glances only, and no words
As at previous levels, some things will work and some won’t. At this level, you’ll have to work pretty hard to keep things going, and each interaction will last a short time. But the important thing is to “persist in your pursuit” – don’t give up, and be attentive to your child’s moods and rhythms to choose the best times for successful interactions. Choose activities you know your child likes as starting points. Challenge your child to do things to you, help him achieve his goals, and even add in obstacles and challenges to add steps in an interaction.
You will know your child is at this level when:
- he begins to express his own ideas, and you begin to have a sense of your child’s personality
- the child shows desires by pointing, reaching, making sounds – she moves to communicate
- you see some back and forth interaction
- older children are able to initiate and respond even when they are feeling a variety of strong emotions