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The DIR Teaching Method

DIR stands for Developmental, Individual Differences, and Relationship-Based Model. These three elements are paramount to Clear Horizons Academy’s approach and program.

The DIR Model focuses on the developmental levels of each student. Many children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other learning disabilities have reached some developmental milestones while others are still missing. We seek to build a strong foundation of development, filling in the holes where skills may have been missed along the way.

Individual Differences:
Our program is not a cookie-cutter approach, but is instead tailored to the individual differences and needs of each child. The DIR method focuses on what each specific child needs to communicate, learn and become engaged in our world. There are no two children exactly alike, and the way they learn needs to be as unique as they are.

A relationship-based model is imperative for children on the Autism Spectrum. Relationships are the key to nearly everything we do. It’s the motivation for our actions and needs to be worked on in order to interact with others.

Floortime, an important element of the DIR Method, is a specific technique of both following a child’s lead, as well as challenging the child towards greater and greater mastery of social, emotional and intellectual capacities. Floortime gets its name from the playful interactions that often occur on the floor, but it may also include conversations and other activities which are focused on the goal of increasing back-and-forth interaction and communication between child and adult.

DIR is an ideal way to help children with autism because it can include many different components that a child needs to learn at his/her best. It involves a team approach with speech therapy, occupational therapy, educational programs, and other interventions. DIR uses “affect” to fuel learning. Affect is using facial expressions, emotions, interest and intonation (in other words – drama) to help teach concepts. By working play and affect into our teaching, we use a child’s strengths to help build skills such as communication, motor planning, problem solving, social skills, imaginative play, understanding emotions, taking turns, following directions, flexibility, and so on. By making learning fun and unique to that child’s interests, we capture their attention and show them how great learning can be, while challenging them to move up the developmental ladder to their reach their potential.

To see how the DIR Model works within a school classroom, contact Clear Horizons Academy to schedule a tour.

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