DIR Method and Autism Ranking: Limited positive evidence

Mother and child with autism doing Floortime

The DIR Method (also known as Floortime, DIRFloortime or the Developmental, Individual Difference, Relationship-Based Model) is a comprehensive, multi-component intervention used to help children with educational, social-emotional, mental health, and/or developmental challenges.

The DIR Method is based on the idea that some children have difficulty reaching certain developmental milestones (such as two-way communication) and can be helped to meet those milestones through playful, structured interaction with an adult.

The key technique used within the DIR Method is a series of 'Floortime' exercises in which the carer takes an active role in spontaneous and fun activities that are directed by the child's interests and actions.

The DIR Method is usually delivered by parents, helped by a DIR Method consultant, who develops and oversees a programme personalised to the needs of the family, and with input from other professionals as necessary.

There are several programmes (such as the MEHRIT program and the Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters (PLAY) Project Home Consultation program) which are based on the DIR Method. There are also a number of other multi-component programmes (such as the Children's Toddler School Program in the US) which incorporate elements of the DIR Method alongside elements from other approaches.

Our Opinion

There is some very limited research evidence to suggest that the DIR method may help improve the quality of interactions between some autistic young children and their parents.

There is insufficient research evidence to determine if the DIR method provides any kind of other benefits to autistic children or their parents.

Future research should use randomised controlled designs to investigate the effectiveness of the DIR Method against active control groups (for example, by directly comparing the DIR Method with other interventions, relative to a no-treatment control group) using larger sample sizes.

It would also be helpful to identify the effectiveness of the specific components of the DIR Method, investigating whether and how these add value to the programme.


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17 Jun 2022
Last Review
01 Mar 2016
Next Review
01 Oct 2022