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 get the program in Australia.
Who is More Than Words for?
This program is for parents of autistic children aged under 6 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 program for preschoolers with language delay.
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 the theory that language develops through children’s interactions 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 emphasises child-centred activities within a family’s routine, like playing and sharing books.
What does More Than Words involve?
Hanen-certified speech pathologists usually run More than Words at clinics or early intervention centres. They might also run clinics via telehealth.
The program has 3 main parts:
- Initial assessment.
- Group program – groups of 8 families attend 8-10 weekly sessions (2½ hours each) at a centre.
- Coaching sessions – 3 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, parents do most of the program’s activities in children’s natural environments.
Does More Than Words help autistic children?
The program is based on well-established principles that are well supported by research.
Some research shows positive effects from the program itself. For example, research has shown improvements in parent-child interactions and in children’s communication, particularly for children who started the program with more limited skills.
More research is needed.
Who practises More Than Words?
Only Hanen-certified speech pathologists who’ve had specialised training at the Hanen Centre can run the More Than Words program.
Only speech pathologists are eligible to complete Hanen training.
Where can you find a practitioner?
You can find a qualified More Than Words practitioner by going to:
- Hanen Centre – Find a Hanen speech language pathologist
- Speech Pathology Australia – Find a speech pathologist.
If you’re interested in More Than Words, it’s a good idea to talk about it with your GP or one of the other professionals working with your child. You could also talk about it with your NDIA planner, early childhood partner or local area coordinator, if you have one.
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’ll 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.
The program also includes social support for you.
The cost of the More Than Words program varies depending on the professional who’s providing it. You also need a parent guidebook, which you can either borrow or buy from the program providers.
Therapies and supports for autistic children range from behaviour therapies and developmental approaches to medicines and alternative therapies. When you understand the main types of therapies and supports for autistic children, it’ll be easier to work out the approach that will best suit your child.