Why More Than Words® is so powerful

Why More Than Words® is so powerful
Posted on Tue 30 Apr 2019

by Tina Wild

CPA Speech Pathologist Ronda Shehata talks about the success of More Than Words®, a 12-week group program that teaches parents to support children (from birth to five years) with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or social communication difficulties.

 

Q. Why is More Than Words® unique?

A.

More Than Words® has developed a fantastic reputation across the world, and has taken traction in Canada, USA, UK and Australia. This success speaks for itself.

The program is backed by high-level evidence and is a different approach to traditional therapies. There’s no other program like it in terms of its structure, strategies and simple yet effective resources.

At CPA we facilitate the More Than Words® program with a Hanen® certified speech pathologist, who teaches small groups of parents, step-by-step, how to support their child to have more meaningful interactions with others.

Families become part of their child’s journey, problem solving how they can bring therapy into every day play and activities like meal and bath times.

 

Q. Why is involving parents important to the program’s success?

A.

An hour of therapy once a week is just not enough for a child to fulfil their communication potential. To see significant improvement, they really need daily repetition and constant reinforcement during everyday interactions and play.

Parents are usually the most consistent touchpoint in a child’s life, which also means they are in the best position to support their child’s development in this way.

Research has also shown, and experts agree, that when parents are given the tools to become a primary provider of early communication, their children achieve goals faster, and with long-lasting results.

The More Than Words® program works on the principle that “if you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day, but teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for the rest of his life.” Essentially we’re teaching parents how to become experts in their child’s communication and developmental needs.

 

Q. What are the outcomes of More Than Words®?

A.

When a parent has a child with autism, they often feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. This program equips parents with the skills to help their child on a daily basis, while also building their own confidence.

This newfound confidence also grows from the opportunity to connect with other parents participating in the program. Following the program, parents can lean on this network of parents for additional support, as well as speaking with their therapist.

I saw this confidence in action with one mum, who was like a different person after completing the program. She organised a meeting with her child’s OT and pre-school team, created a plan, and demonstrated such a level of confidence that I had no doubts about her ability to implement that plan for her child.

 

Q. How do strategies differ for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder?

A.

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or social communication difficulties have unique needs and require specific teaching techniques.

More Than Words® presents simple but effective strategies using resources and techniques which are easy for any parent to understand and remember. For example, one technique is OWL, which stands for: Observe. Wait. Listen.

This may sound basic but it’s incredibly powerful. The skill of waiting for your child to respond requires a lot of practise, as parents tend to get used to doing things the same way. When you follow your child’s lead, they are more motivated, and better able to respond to you and learn from the activity.

Kids on this program are at very different developmental stages. For some kids we don’t focus on developmental milestones as it sets up unrealistic expectations. Instead, we focus on what each child can do and set realistic goals. It’s a building block to develop on.

 

Q. What are the greatest challenges for parents?

A.

Finding the time to complete the program can be tricky for busy parents. The weekly commitment of attending 2.5 hours a week sounds a lot. However, we focus on strategies that can be implemented into daily routines, so the time spent on this program is time a parent would spend with their child anyway. All I can say is those who do make the commitment, really reap the rewards.

I’m so excited to deliver this unique therapy approach to families, and supporting them to become empowered to help their child achieve goals they’ve been having difficulty with.

 

To find out more, join our FREE information session on Friday 28 June 2019 at 10.00am-12.00pm in Kingswood, Sydney.

Call us on 1300 888 378 or ask@cerebralpalsy.org.au to register.

Written by Head of Reserach at Cerebral Palsy Alliance Reserach Institute, Dr Iona Novak and published in Source Kids 12 December 2019, this article brings you the latest on how to maximise child development through neuroplasticity. 

The Pararoos play their first match on home soil since the 2000 Paralympic Games this month. And you're invited! 


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