Why the Floor is So Important for Your Child With Special Needs

The first time I saw Glenn Doman, he was teaching the parents of children with special needs. He was lecturing to parents about the importance of floor time for children with mobility problems. I fell in love with Glenn almost instantaneously, and I also fell in the love with the floor as a treatment program for children with special needs.

As a graduate with two degrees in special education, I thought of myself as an expert in child development. I had taught children diagnosed with autism, learning problems, seizures and cerebral palsy. I had learned tons of techniques, but never about the crucial role the floor plays in mobility development.

Glenn explained as he lectured that he felt foolish when he finally came to this realization! Kids with special needs benefit greatly when they are given ample opportunity to move on the floor.

Forty years ago, sitting and listening to Glenn, I felt just as silly.  The children with special needs that I worked with were constantly in chairs, wheelchairs, strollers and other contraptions. I immediately realized that these children were greatly restricted in these devices, and that the floor meant they could learn to move much more quickly.

Here are simple truths about why the floor is so important for the development of children with special needs.

  1. When children with special needs are placed on the floor and permitted to move on the floor, they get the best opportunity to improve and get well. There is no other treatment that can come close to providing this.

  2. Some kids may not be able to move forward and crawl just by being placed on the floor. Glenn learned that by giving these children an inclined floor, they could learn how to crawl.  This device was created to teach the child if that if you move your arms or legs, you will start to move forward.

  3. Children who walk or run poorly and who have a diagnosis of developmental delayed, hyperactivity, reading problems, and autism can be greatly helped when given unlimited opportunity on the floor to crawl and creep. Crawling and creeping as activities were positive for brain development.

  4. When a child with special needs crawls or creeps, they should be picked up and hugged and praised for their accomplishments.  In short, parents must make it clear that the child did something very special and their child is wonderful. There should be no doubt in any child’s mind that the effort was worth it.

  5. Glenn Doman’s book “What to Do About Your Brain Injured Child” and “Fit Baby, Smart Baby, Your Baby!” are both important books for parents concerned about physical development of their children.

In 1952, Glenn Doman discovered the importance of the floor.  In 2019, there are many new and wonderful program as part of the Doman Method -- but the floor remains paramount to help kids start learning to move.