What is More Than Words®?

More Than Words® is a family-centred, group-based training program. It focuses on training parents to help children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) 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 children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) aged under six years.

What is More Than Words® used for?

The More Than Words® program aims to promote communication skills in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) 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 language development in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

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 parent training and a family-centred approach.

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.
  • Video feedback 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.

Cost considerations

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.

Does More Than Words® work?

This therapy has not yet been rated. More research is needed.

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 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:

You could also talk with your NDIA planner, NDIS early childhood partner or NDIS local area coordination partner, if you have one.

There are many treatments for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). They range from those based on behaviour and development to those based on medicine or alternative therapy. Our article on types of interventions for children with ASD takes you through the main treatments, so you can better understand your child’s options.