First of all, developmental individual differences
relationship (DIR) and applied behavior analysis (ABA) working with young
children with autism and related disorders, and may seem very similar. But
there is an overlap in some parts of therapy; they work as a complement to one
another. DRI focuses on relational, social, emotional, and cognitive
development through play, and ABA modified behaviors through the use of


 Is an
approach that focuses on how one’s behaviors and attitudes are affected by
changes in his environment. Its main principle said that when a behavior is
rewarded by some sort of reinforcement, the behavior is more likely to be
repeated. It uses a teaching technique depending on using continuous trials
where the stimulus is presented to the child (like “do this” or “touch object”
or “look at me”). Correct behaviors and actions are emphasized with lots of
positive reinforcement. When incorrect responses happen, they are ignored and
correct responses are rewarded and prompted. Undesirable behaviors are treated
in the same way. In the beginning, the child may be reinforced for doing
something close to the correct response. By the time, when the child learns the
appropriate response, expectations are increased and reinforcements are changed.

 ABA treatment can aid children with autism
make meaningful changes in many aspects in both structured and unstructured
situations. But, changes do not typically occur quickly. Moreover, most
patients need ongoing and intensive instruction that help their step-by-step
progress. The rate of progress differs dependently from one to one considering
the age, level of skills, family requirement and effective roles and other
factors. It has been known to emphasize skills such as reading,
verbal communication, listening, self-care, and understanding the perspectives
of others.


 Is an approach
provides a developmental principles to intervention for children with special
needs in relationship with their parents. The therapy is naturalistic, child
led, play based, and adult-facilitated. Children with special needs have
neurobiological factors, which make it difficult to develop and participate in
early emotional interactions with their parents. These enjoy full interactions
between parent and child that are pleasurable, meaningful, and positive are the
primary necessary for all developmental aspects. DIR helps parents in their
natural and normal relationship with their child enhancing their development
across aspects, including joint attention, ideation and execution,
communication and language, cognition, regulation, social problem solving and
motor skills.

Floortime is
one of DRI models that used by adults to assist a child’s communication skills
by meeting the child’s developmental level. Parents are instructed to play on
the floor with their child, using social interactions to bring their child’s
attention and creativity, and making activities that the child enjoys with,
which supports the child’s developmental progress.



As we mentioned
before, DRI and ABA working as complement to one another, so they frequently
are utilized. There are three major similarities:  the intensive planning, involvement of
parents, and progressive steps toward a goal.

Intensive planning:

Both models
need intensive amounts of time. DRI includes sessions with a therapist in
addition to time needed for the parent during the day, which added to over 25
hours per week. Also ABA required more than 25 hours per week of intervention
directly with the therapist.

Parental Involvement:

In DRI a large
part of therapy is parent. They engage their child in both naturalistic
everyday environments and in therapy sessions, and engage with the therapist to
create goals. In ABA, Parents are engaged in the setting of planning programs and
goals, in addition to regular meetings to retest their child’s progress.

Progressive steps
toward a goal.

 In order to reach a goal a progression of levels is required in both DRI
and ABA. DRI begins with working on the child’s attention and focus so that he
can be ready to learn. But ABA begins with modification of behaviors and works
on how to learn behaviors.


However, there
are several differences between the two models of interventions, such as: how
the mood of child influences his level of attention, the role of relationships
in therapy, how the child learns and processes, how the child represents the
world and expresses his ideas, and how emotion is regulated by the programming.

How the mood of child
influences his level of attention and the role of relationships in

In DRI parents
play a central role. The relationship with child and parent is supportive and
loving, which create emotions to the front of DRI intervention, moreover
engagement, communication, and attention. Every behavior is important to
analyze to understand if the child is trying to communicate. Although in ABA,
parents are not necessarily play a role in implementing intervention, but they
enhance the techniques across settings.

How the child learns
and processes:

 DRI works as the child has a unique profile of sensory motor, which
explains the child’s actions and directs progress of treatments. ABA focuses on
these individual behaviors and difference to be either a consequence or
antecedent of other behaviors.

How the child
represents the world and expresses his ideas:

In DRI the
child uses self-directed play to represent his own views of the world and his
ideas. Although in ABA helps in the growth and development child’s expressions
of internal ideas and processes by teaching him how to play.

How emotion is

In DRI parents demonstrate
emotions to their child, including support and love. Parents and therapists try
to find causes of the child reactions when he reacts with any kind of emotion
(joy, fear, anger, etc.). But in ABA, moods and emotions are considered as
behaviors that can be measured and modified through rewards. The cause of
behaviors is not considered here, but desired behaviors are reinforced with a
positive reward.


In spite of
differences, both DRI and ABA are valuable treatments and each brings unique
model to intervention. In many cases, I order to offer a greater benefit to the
child utilizing both together is required, where one lacks, the other provides.