The DIR Approach

The DIR (developmental-individual differences-relationship based) model was developed by Stanley Greenspan, PhD, and Serena Weider, PhD. It is an approach designed to support emotional and cognitive growth. This model is best applied to support children with developmental differences, learning differences, social-emotional challenges, and/or mental health needs. The DIR model is based on a deep knowledge of child development and aims to support the child in reaching his/her highest capacity. The goal of this approach is to provide the child with the tools needed to become a well-adjusted adult: one that is able to build meaningful relationships; to think critically and creatively, and to process both positive and negative emotions in a healthy way.

The various components of the DIR model are described by its acronym:
D: Developmental
This component describes the developmental foundation on which the model is built. There are six developmental levels that serve as the foundation for cognitive development and emotional harmony. 6 FEDLs

I: Individual differences
The model aknowledges and celebrates that everyone is different and has a unique profile. This unique profile is defined by the way the child processes and organizes sensory information to produce an appropriate response. We tailor all interactions around our understanding of the child’s individual differences, which includes: sensory processing, motor development, language development, cognitive development, and developmental history.

R: Relationship-based
This component highlights the importance of relationships in development and learning. All children, even those with developmental differences that make social interactions difficult, crave human interaction. We utilize our relationship with the child, and caregiver’s relationships with the child, as our most powerful tool to make real shifts development. A crucial component of our program is adapting interactions to the developmental profile and individual characteristics of the child to promote growth.