Sophia Dvorkina DIR/Floortime Therapy
This week we brought in one of our favorite people and our dear friend, Sophia!
Sophia Dvorkina is an education specialist who focuses on DIR/floor time therapy. Sophia is passionate about bringing back happiness and laughter to families with neuro-diversity. Throughout her experience working with children diagnosed with Autism she understands how stressful it is dealing with labels and unexpected situations! By using the DIR/floortime approach she helps families understand their child, embrace each individual child's abilities and assist in the growth of their social as well as, emotional developmental milestones. If you haven't yet listened to the episode CLICK HERE. After you have listened come back here for the show notes:
Why did you choose this Career Path?
When she was trying to figure out what she wanted to do she came across Autism as a field of its own in mental health. She was always intrigued by people with Autism and felt like that was her calling! More recently, her realization came to fruition when someone close to her sadly passed away from mental illness. Throughout her whole life she was trying to understand this person but she was unable to and now she has integrated that into her work with children who have Autism to be able to understand each person on an individual level by helping them as well as, their family.
Sophia states that, "Autism is MORE than just a LABEL" and that these individuals are very special.
Anytime you have an emotional connection to something your work becomes that much more meaningful and this couldn't have been better explained!
What is DIR floor time therapy?
DIR therapy was created by Stanley Greenspan in order to understand human development, individual differences and people in general.
D is for Development
Where is the child at now?
I is for Individual Differences
What kind of sensory process does he or she have?
Remembering that every child is different is important in order to see how the child takes in the world and how their sensory processing occurs! For example, when a child covers his or her ears means that the noise around them (whether it be music or not) is affecting the child to elicit that behavior.
R is for Relationship
The whole point of this is to understand the child as a whole and not just for their behaviors.
What does the typical day look like?
You come in and see the child and follow their lead. You want to join them in whatever they are doing so you can become a part of their world in order to make them feel safe and understand them. Once you are in their world you can start working on their developmental milestones and watch them progress.
Why do you think this therapy is different from others?
This type of therapy focuses on the child as a whole person and not just on the child's behaviors. You don't want your child to become robotic and you want them to develop these behaviors naturally.
How is COVID-19 affecting families?
It has been really hard because a lot of the therapies families used to get from outside they are unable to receive anymore. A lot of the parents and children are having a hard time transitioning. The parents are now the ones having to provide these therapies. This transition is affecting both the child and the family. You will see that even though some children cannot verbally express themselves they still carry that anxiety and so their outlet is to use behaviors to show that (i.e.: kicking, tantrums, biting, banging on the walls, head banging).
How can people in the educational field help?
By creating a better structure in the educational system. Sophia acknowledges that everyone is doing their best at this time and that it would take time to develop the best model.
You want to get your child's body moving in order to allow the child to get their energy out. Some activities you can do include:
Wheel barrel walks
Animal or bear walks
Jumping on a trampoline
If you have an Occupational Therapist that would be great but if you don't have that luxury then opt for some of these:
Provide your child security and safety
Partake in pretend play
Acknowledge their feelings
Channel their feelings and help bring their ideas into words if they are not able to
For example, if your child is having a tantrum you want to acknowledge it and allow them to experience the tantrum. Then you try again (unless the environment is becoming unsafe then you may want to give them a light squeeze).
Cooking is another great sensory activity to help engage your child. By making cookies you can also teach them how to measure, etc. Spontaneous learning is best! That applies to us adults as well.
Playing with weighted items, friendly squeezes, dancing (don't forget to try the music first and see which they enjoy), physical activities and chewy toys are other strategies you can use!
Pinterest is a good website to use for their amazing ideas as well!
Side note: Sophia and Frances have a company BESTIE TOYS. This company was created as a safe & effective way to self regulate, stay calm, focus and relieve anxiety. These Chewelry's were created for children with sensory needs especially during periods of increased stresst. They are made from food grade, FDA approved materials that contain no heavy metals, phthalates, lead or BPAs. They are also made in the USA! Reach out to them @BestieToys on Instagram.
During COVID-19 Bestie Toys donated more than 150 Chewelry's across the United States to children in need! Check out Episode 10 Here for more on their brand!
How is COVID-19 affecting children?
It has been very hard because their routine is being disrupted. Children with autism have a very high anxiety level and no one really talks about children with special needs or what they are dealing with at home. It is also less commonly discussed about the struggles for both the children and their families!
Are you doing Tele Health and how has that been working out for you?
Before Sophia switched over to the tele world, she thought this was not going to be a good thing but she noticed this platform has worked more than if they are together in person. This may be largely due to the relationships she has already developed with these children as well as the eliminated threat of a stranger being in close proximity to you.
How will this affect the child growing up?
How will this pandemic change their life?
It all depends on the parent and the child as well as, what happens when they go back to school. If you continue working with your child and work through it then that transition would be smoother. The best therapist in a child's life is their parent!
Parents please know that you are not alone. Join a lot of support groups, even facebook has some! It's really nice to see people support each other during this time and may we continue to do so.
Everyone should try out ICDL
This is where floor time training begins. Here you can find courses for therapists, teachers and families.
This is a mom who does DIR/floor time therapy, a podcast, a blog and free weekly support meetings!
Also, please check out mental health resources provided by the CDC and WHO.
These will involve various resources available for a variety of mental health issues
For a limited time ONLY, Sophia is offering not one but TWO separate tele-health sessions customized to your family needs. Note each session is one hour long! This will include: developmental advice, the opportunity to discuss concerns as well as, receive support and play therapy with your child. Please visit @TheSecretScope for more details on how you can WIN!
Where to find Sophia:
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Disclaimer: The Content on our podcast/website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.