DIR Method and Autism Ranking: Limited positive evidence

Aims and Claims


According to The Interdisciplinary Council on Development and Learning website, accessed on 8 March 2016,  

“The DIR model is ... a framework that helps clinicians, parents and educators conduct comprehensive assessments and develop educational and/or intervention programs tailored to the unique challenges and strengths of each child.”

“The objectives of the DIR® Model are to build healthy foundations for social, emotional, and intellectual capacities rather than focusing on skills and isolated behaviors.”

“Six basic developmental levels (AKA: stages, milestones, or capacities) lay a foundation for all our learning and development.”

“These six basic steps form a developmental ladder; each layers new abilities onto those of prior stages. We identify each of these steps because each one marks a major turning point in the life of a child.”

The six basic steps are

  • Level 1: Self-regulation and interest in the world
  •  Level 2: Intimacy, engagement, and falling in love
  • Level 3: Two-way communication
  • Level 4: Complex communication
  • Level 5: Emotional ideas
  • Level 6: Emotional and logical thinking


There have been various claims made for the DIR Method.  For example, The Interdisciplinary Council on Development and Learning website, accessed on 8 March 2016, claims that,

“DIRFloortime has the strongest research of any intervention to support its effectiveness in improving the core challenges of autism including relating, interacting, and communicating while decreasing caregiver stress and improving parent-child relationships.”

The website cites various research studies to support this claim.  For example, it reports

 “Four randomized-controlled studies were published since 2011 identifying statistically significant improvement in children with autism who used Floortime versus traditional behavioral approaches (Solomon, et. al., 2014; Casenheiser, Shanker and Steiben, 2011; Lal and Chhabria, 2013; Pajareya and Kopmaneejumruslers, 2011). These studies also showed the effectiveness of addressing the caregiver (Casenheiser et. al., 2011; Solomon, et. al., 2014) and specific skill improvement including turn taking, two way communication, understanding cause and effect and emotional thinking (Lal and Chhabria, 2013).”

31 Oct 2017
Last Review
01 Mar 2016
Next Review
01 Mar 2019