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Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Tribute to Dr. Stanley Greenspan

Hi all! I'm on an "autism history" kick and found this wonderful piece written by Alan Stokes on the Autisable Weblog. I am only posting portions of it, since it's long. It is a wonderful and comprehensive tribute to one of the pioneers in the treatment of young children with autism, Dr. Stanley Greenspan. We lost Dr. Greenspan just a few years ago, yet his work will live on way beyond the time when those who met him could remember. I am convinced that Floortime was what "unlocked" Nathan's potential and the only way his therapists could get him to engage during his hardest times as a toddler. It's NOT for everyone, but for us, it was a lifeline!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Autism Light: Dr. Stanley Greenspan

Two years ago today the autism community lost a hero who made a tremendous contribution in the treatment of autism. Dr. Stanley I. Greenspan was the influential child psychiatrist responsible for the development of the autism treatment known as Floortime. Dr. Stanley Greenspan is being named an Autism Light posthumously for his work with opening up a new world to countless numbers of children with autism and for bringing Floortime to the repertoire of autism treatments. His name is also being added to the Autism Light Memorial Roll.

Dr. Stanley I. Greenspan was born on June 1, 1941 and passed away on April 27, 2010 from complications of a stroke. At the time of his death at age 68, he was a clinical professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at George Washington University medical school, a practicing child psychiatrist, prolific author, and popular conference speaker. He had spent over 40 years of his life working with and for the compassionate treatment of children with autism. The New York Times at his death said that he, "invented an influential approach to teaching children with autism and other developmental problems by folding his lanky six-foot frame onto the floor and following their lead in vigorous play (Source)."

Dr. Stanley I. Greenspan was a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Medical School. Dr. Greenspan also had an important role in child development as the founding President of the Zero to Three Foundation.  Even with his vast higher education accomplishments, Dr. Stanley Greenspan had an ability to explain concepts in a simple way for others to understand and implement in their own part of the autism treatment world. The Interdisciplinary Council on Development and Learning Disabilities (ICDL) features the following quote from Dr. Greenspan on the first page of their website.

All children have within them the potential to be great kids. It's our job to create a great world where this potential can flourish.
-Dr. Stanley Greenspan, 2007

Dr. Stanley Greenspan's greatest legacy is creating the autism treatment technique known as Floortime. The technique is also used to help people with other special needs beside autism. The Interdisciplinary Council on Development and Learning Disabilities (ICDL) describes Floortime this way: "Floortime is both a specific technique, in which for twenty or more minutes at a time a caregiver gets down on the floor to interact with the child, and a general philosophy that characterizes all daily interactions with the child (Source)."

Dr. Stanley Greenspan was the author or co-author of over 30 books written over a period of 35 years.

Stanley Greenspan was a genius of understanding and kindness. In a world where it began to be the norm to ignore, punish and assume that children on the Autism Spectrum could only learn through rote reinforcement, Stanley stood up and said, "No, there is another way." He took people to task for assuming that behaviors were to be extinguished, not understood as communication, and he wanted people to understand that what people with the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder had to think and say was at least as valuable and interesting as anything their teachers and clinicians thought or said. His respectful approach never closed the window of hope, and he always assumed that a great, respectful, developmentally appropriate treatment program could help every person at any age.

Dr. Stanley Greenspan's work continues to be carried on every day around the world by a multitude of practitioners and parents who use D.I.R./Floortime to help children with autism. Dr. Greenspans's family continues to build upon his work as well. His son Jake Greenspan is the Director of The Floortime Center in Betheseda, Maryland and his widow Nancy Thorndike Greenspan, who co-authored several books with him, continues to offer Dr. Greenspan's online Floortime training course on  The Greenspan Floortime Approach website.

You can learn more about Dr. Stanley Greenspan's life and qualifications on these pages.

Special thanks to Dr. Stanley Greenspan for his work that brought D.I.R./Floortime to the autism community. To one who built his legacy on sitting down on the floor with little children who had autism, we stand up and cheer him as an Autism Light that shines every brightly beyond his years on this earth. Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

To read the original article on Autisable, go to: http://www.autisable.com/762589838/autism-light-dr-stanley-greenspan/?cuttag=true#cuttaganchor
Photo: The photos in this post are used with permission of Dr. Stanley Greenspan's family.

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