What is More Than Words®?
More Than Words® is a family-centred, group-based training program. It focuses on training parents to help autistic children develop communication skills. The program is one of several developed at the Hanen Centre in Canada. You can also get the program in Australia.
Who is More Than Words® for?
This program is for parents of autistic children aged under six years.
What is More Than Words® used for?
The More Than Words® program aims to promote communication skills in autistic children by educating parents. Parents learn techniques to encourage their children to communicate as part of daily life at home. The program is also designed to provide social support to parents.
Where does More Than Words® come from?
The Hanen Centre was founded in Canada in 1975. The More Than Words® program was adapted from another Hanen program called It Takes Two to Talk®, an early intervention for preschoolers with language delays. The More Than Words® program focuses on fostering communication and language development in autistic children.
What is the idea behind More Than Words®?
All the Hanen programs, including More Than Words®, are based on a theory that says that language develops as a result of how children interact with others, especially carers. According to this theory, if parents learn to be more responsive to their children, they can create opportunities for children to communicate as part of everyday activities.
The More Than Words® program uses approaches based on Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA), while emphasising child-centred activities within a family’s routine, like playing and sharing books.
What does More Than Words® involve?
The training program is usually run at a clinic or early intervention centre by a Hanen-certified speech pathologist. It has three main parts:
- Initial assessment.
- Group program – groups of eight families attend 8-10 weekly sessions (2.5 hours each) at a centre.
- Coaching sessions – three for each family. Parents are video-recorded at home as they use the skills they’ve been taught with their children. The program trainer provides feedback on the recorded material.
Aside from these centre-based aspects of the program, the program is mainly implemented in children’s natural environments by parents.
The cost of this therapy varies depending on the service provider. Parents also need a parent guidebook, which they can either borrow or buy from the program providers.
You might be able to include the cost of using More Than Words® in children’s NDIS plans. You can contact the NDIS to find out.
Does More Than Words® work?
Some research shows positive effects, but more research is needed. The program is based on well-established principles, including ABA, which are well supported by research. Research has shown improvements in parent-child interactions and in children’s communication, particularly for children who started the program with more limited skills.
Who practises More Than Words®?
A Hanen-certified speech pathologist who has had specialised training at the Hanen Centre delivers the More Than Words® program.
Only speech pathologists are eligible to complete Hanen training.
Parent education, training, support and involvement
As a parent, you’re central to this approach and you need to attend the initial assessment and the group program. You must also be part of the video-recorded interactions and the feedback sessions. You get a guidebook that takes you through the content of the group program.
This program also builds in social support for you through the group format.
Where can you find a practitioner?
You can find a qualified More Than Words® practitioner by going to:
- Speech Pathology Australia – Find a speech pathologist
- Hanen Centre – Find a Hanen speech language pathologist.
You could also talk about this therapy with your NDIA planner, NDIS early childhood early intervention (ECEI) coordinator or NDIS local area coordinator (LAC), if you have one.
There are many therapies for autism. They range from those based on behaviour and development to those based on medicine or alternative therapy. Our article on types of interventions for autistic children takes you through the main therapies, so you can better understand your child’s options.