What is responsive teaching?
Responsive teaching is a program that teaches parents how to support the development of their children’s communication, cognitive, social and emotional skills by being more responsive in the way they interact with their children.
The program’s developers also refer to responsive teaching as a relationship-focused intervention.
This program isn’t currently available as a stand-alone program in Australia. It might be offered as part of a service within Australia or in a modified form.
Who is responsive teaching for?
Responsive teaching is designed for children under six years old who have developmental or social-emotional problems.
What is responsive teaching used for?
Responsive teaching is used to improve three areas of child development – thinking, communication skills, and social and emotional skills. It aims to improve these by teaching children several pivotal behaviours.
Where does responsive teaching come from?
Responsive teaching was developed in the United States in 2007 as a parenting program for parents of young autistic children and children with developmental delays.
What is the idea behind responsive teaching?
This program is based on the idea that responsive interactions between children and parents are an essential basis for development.
What does responsive teaching involve?
Parents and children spend one hour a week with a therapist trained in this approach, either at a centre or at home. The sessions train parents in specific techniques like:
- taking turns when interacting
- matching what they do with children’s development levels
- being warm and expressive when interacting with children.
These techniques aim to improve children’s use of pivotal behaviours and support children’s development and learning.
The therapist and parents also develop family action plans, which are made up of responsive teaching strategies and other activities to do at home.
Responsive teaching isn’t offered as a stand-alone program in Australia, so no information about cost is available.
Does responsive teaching work?
Some research has shown positive effects on child learning and development from this therapy, but more high-quality studies are needed.
Who practises responsive teaching?
Professionals can become Certified Responsive Teaching Providers by completing training through Responsive Teaching International Outreach in the United States.
Parent education, training, support and involvement
Initially, parents must complete a two-day workshop called Getting Started with Responsive Teaching. Parents deliver responsive teaching with the support of a trained professional, so involvement is high.
Where can you find a practitioner?
Responsive teaching is currently available only in the United States and Canada.
If you’re interested in therapies that are similar to responsive teaching, you could talk with your GP or one of the other professionals working with your child. You could also talk about therapies with your NDIA planner, NDIS early childhood partner or NDIS local area coordinator (LAC), if you have one.
There are many therapies and supports for autistic children. These range from behaviour therapies and developmental approaches to medications and alternative therapies. When you understand the main categories that these therapies and supports fall into, it’ll be easier to work out the approach that will best suit your child.