Erikson Institute

Training & Events

Foundations for the Future: Understanding Development: The DIR/FLOORTIME Model

Development should be automatic, yet each child starts life with his or her unique constellation of how they take in and respond to the world around them and form the relationships, which nurture development. It is actually far from automatic and understanding each child’s profile is essential in order to provide the experiences that allow each child to thrive.

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It is important to have a framework which conceptualizes how the various components of development interact with each other (developmental functional levels, individual differences in sensory motor processing, and relationships) in order to assess and plan interventions when needed, especially for children with regulatory and autism spectrum disorders. 

DIR is both a theory and model of intervention that embraced the complexity and heterogeneity of ASD. It synthesized and integrated various developmental frameworks and moved development beyond milestones and symptoms to integrative forces utilizing affect based interactions and experiences tailored to individual needs. Relationships are at the heart of developmental progress and belong to everyone. The future of every individual with autism resides in what we do now as tomorrow always holds the future. Development has its own timetable!

 DIR pioneered parent/caregiver mediated intervention, the essential component of its comprehensive model, to enable parents and caregivers to provide the experiences necessary for emotional well-being, social agency, and functional competence,

This presentation will focus on the “hidden curriculum” of symbolic play that integrates emotional and social cognition, mentalizes the child’s behavior in terms of her intentions, feelings and needs, encourages theory of mind, as well as the hierarchy of symbolized affects, reality testing and emotional regulation. Last, it will address the challenge and promise of current research including pre-emptive relationship based studies. 

Register before November 20, and receive $99 early-bird pricing! Price increases to $115 after November 20.

About the Instructor

Dr. Serena Wieder is a renowned clinical psychologist and Clinical Director of the Profectum Foundation who pioneered foremost approaches to diagnosing and treating infants and toddlers with infant mental health disorders and developmental challenges. She co-created the DIR Model with the late Stanley Greenspan following their research in the Clinical Infant Development Program of NIMH.  She was the co-founder and Associate Chair of the Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders (ICDL) and was the founder and Director of the DIR Institute, an interdisciplinary competency based training program for professionals which now continues at Profectum. Dr. Wieder has published extensively including Engaging Autism, The Child with Special Needs, and Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health, co-authored with Stanley Greenspan.  They also chaired the ICDL Diagnostic Manual for Infants and Young Children and the first Zero to Three Diagnostic Classification of Mental Health and Developmental Disorders of Infancy.  She also co-authored with Dr. Harry Wachs Visual Spatial Portals to Thinking, Feeling and Movement: Advancing Competencies and Emotional Development in Children with Learning and Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Dr. Wieder served on the 0-3 Board for twenty five years and continues to serve on many Advisory Boards. She teaches at the Adelphi Parent-Infant Program and the NAPA IMH program. Dr. Wieder recently moved back to New York City where she continues her practice, provides consultation to clinical and educational settings, and lectures extensively both nationally and internationally and continues to publish widely.




Participants will be able to:

  1. List the functional emotional developmental levels
  2. Describe regulatory and sensory processing capacities and how they contribute to uneven development and anxiety
  3. Identify the role of sequencing and visual spatial knowledge in early learning
  4. Identify the parallels between emotional and symbolic development
  5. Recommend strategies for parent-child interactions and play to support development
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