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Stanley Greenspan (1941-2010) was an American child and adult psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who was a Clinical Professor at George Washington University Medical School. He lived in Bethesda, Maryland.

In 1962 he earned a A.B at Harvard University, and four years later graduated from the Yale Medical School. In 1975, he became a founder of the Zero to Three Foundation, the national centre for children and families, and was president of that foundation until 1984. Other work for the organisation included being Chairman of the Diagnostic Classification Committee from 1988 to 1996.

Beginning in 1975 he wrote four monographs and 40 books including The Course of Life: Psychoanalytic Contributions to Understanding Personality Development with G H Pollock in 1980, with an update in 1989-90. He has also created two videos including Exploring First Feelings, which is an introduction to his orientation into social-emotional development. Both in the popular press and in peer-reviewed articles, he has written about a wide variety of subjects that affect child and human development.

Developmental Individual Difference Relationship Model/Floortime[edit | edit source]

In the 1980s Greenspan built upon research in social-emotional development to create a theoretical model and intervention for children with deficits in relating and communicating. This method is known as the Developmental Individual Difference Relationship Model or more popularly as the DIR Model. The specific therapeutic technique also developed by Greenspan is known as Floortime.

The basic premise of the model and the intervention is that children learn skills from the relationships which they have with their caregivers and other people significant in their lives. Greenspan first set down his nine stages of development in 1979 in the monograph, Intelligence and Adaptation. From this he developed Floortime, which was in part developed in response to the needs of the increasing population diagnosed with disorders on the Autistic Spectrum, who were then being either served by behavioural methods or cognitive skills, and other impairments of development and learning.

Greenspan's theory of development is that children grow, from birth to 4 years, in 6 different milestones:

  • Milestone 1: Self-Regulation
  • Milestone 2: Intimacy
  • Milestone 3: Two-Way Communication
  • Milestone 4: Problem-Solving
  • Milestone 5: Emotional Ideas
  • Milestone 6: Emotional Thinking

The advanced levels of thinking--multi-causal, grey area, and reflective--follow, with reflective thinking being a life long endeavor.

Greenspan wrote about this model in dozens of books. In The First Idea, together with co-author Stuart Shanker, he expanded his ideas to describe how symbols, language and intelligence evolved. Greenspan's last book The Learning Tree (co-authored with Nancy Thorndike Greenspan) describes The DIR Model, Floortime, and the development of the sensory processing system (individual differences) at each milestone.

His focus on individual differences is meditated through the sensory system and the motor system.

His focus on relationships means that the parents work with the child directly on creating an emotional relationship.

See also[edit | edit source]

Books[edit | edit source]

  • The First Idea: How Symbols, Language, and Intelligence Evolved from our Primate Ancestors to Modern Humans by Stanley I. Greenspan, Stuart G. Shanker (2004)
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