Rachel Cortese, MS Ed, MS CCC-SLP, is a licensed Speech-language pathologist who has completed specialized training and certification from The Hanen Centre, an internationally recognized leader in speech and language intervention techniques.
More Than Words® — The Hanen Program for Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder®, is an evidence-based, twelve-week, program for parents and caregivers of young children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In a family-centered, small group setting, parents and caregivers learn skills to enhance back-and-forth interactions with their children, help improve their children’s social skills and their understanding of language. Additionally, parents and caregivers learn techniques that facilitate speech, language and communication development, which address the unique needs of children with ASD.
The It Takes Two to Talk® program consists of an initial individual consultation session, three individual family sessions, eight small group training sessions, and a final individual feedback session at the conclusion of the program. By the end of the program, you will know what to say and what to do to be your child’s most important communication teacher. The strategies will become a natural part of the way you interact with your child.
During the 8 group sessions you’ll learn step-by-step, how to:
- Recognize your child’s stage and style of communication so that you know which steps to take next
- Identify what motivates your child to interact with you
- Adjust everyday routines to help your child take turns and keep interactions going
- Follow your child’s lead to encourage him to take turns in an interaction and communicate
- Implement strategies in your everyday interactions to help your child understand language
- Tweak the way you play and read books with your child to help him learn language.
- Learn to foster longer, more meaningful interactions and improved social skills
During the individual meetings, Rachel will help you to advance your use of strategies to help your child achieve their individual communication goals. You will receive on the spot feedback and coaching from direct observation and videotape.
The program concludes with a meeting between you and Rachel to discuss your child’s progress and a plan for additional follow-up, if necessary. A written report discussing your child’s goals and progress will be provided.
AN EVIDENCED-BASED PROGRAM
The More Than Words Program is based on a large body of research that has shown that children learn to communicate within positive, meaningful interactions with their parents and caregivers and that, when parents become more responsive and sensitive to their children’s communication, the children’s communication skills improve. For more information, please refer to the research summary here.
Families will receive the guidebook, More Than Words: A Parent’s Guide to Building Interaction and Language Skills for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or Social Communication Difficulties and provided with handouts, which will be used throughout the program.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT MORE THAN WORDS®
Who is the More Than Words program for?
This program is appropriate for parents and caregivers of young children (birth to 5 years of age) who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Why is this program recommended in addition to regular speech and language therapy sessions for my child?
Research has shown that involving parents is the most effective way to promote communication development in young children and that the language enriched environment that parents can offer their children on a daily basis can have greater outcomes then a visit with a speech language pathologist once per week. This program teaches you, step-by-step, how to facilitate your child’s communication and social skills naturally throughout your day, thereby becoming your child’s most important teacher. Additionally, one of the greatest benefits of the More Than Words Program is the opportunity to connect with other parents and caregivers in similar situations. However, the program is also highly individualized for each family. During each group session there will be an opportunity to personalize the information by planning together how to apply information to your child’s individual situation. The pre-program consultation, individual sessions and feedback session all offer extensive opportunities to discuss your child’s unique needs and practice using the strategies with your child.
Will insurance cover the fees?
We will provide you with a detailed statement of services provided for you to submit your claim directly to your insurance carrier. We suggest consulting your insurance carrier in advance for the specific benefits of your plan.
Does my child need an evaluation before we begin the program?
An assessment of your child’s speech and language development is a necessary part of understanding your child’s current stage of communication and developing goals to help them to the next level. As part of the pre-program consultation, Rachel will meet with you and your child. If you have a previous speech and language evaluation, you are encouraged to share it with Rachel prior to beginning the program.
Will anyone be directly working with my child during this program?
No, we do not work directly with your child during the group sessions. Parents and caregivers attend the group and individual sessions to learn the strategies that encourage their child’s communication. Your child will participate in the pre-program consultation and the three individual sessions with you and Rachel. The More Than Words® program helps parents help their children.
How many families can participate?
Your group will consist of 3-6 families.
What is a pre-program consultation?
After you register, the pre-program consultation is an individual meeting with Rachel Cortese, MS CCC-SLP, a Hanen- certified Speech Language Pathologist (SLP), prior to beginning the first session in the program. Pre-program consultations will be scheduled at your convenience. The purpose of this consultation is for Rachel to meet you and your child, discuss the program in more detail, do an informal assessment of your child’s communication, develop and discuss communication goals for your child. Rachel will also make a brief videotape of you interacting with your child. This tape is used to help both you and Rachel become aware of how you and your child interact and communicate together. The appointment will last approximately one-and-a-half to two hours.
What happens at the individual visits?
Over the course of the program you will have three individual visits at your home with Rachel, which will include videotaping and feedback. The individual visits and videotaping is an important part of the program as it provides parents and caregivers with the opportunity to learn the strategies that best meets the needs of their child.
Do we need to attend all group sessions in the program?
Full participation in the program is necessary you and your child to benefit from it. Because new information is covered each session, it is important to attend all sessions. If you need to miss a session, please let Rachel know in advance.
Are there any assignments that I will need to complete between sessions?
Prior to each group session, there will be a small amount of reading and you will be asked to practice what you learn with your child each week.
What materials will I need?
Families will receive the guidebook, More Than Words: A Parent’s Guide to Building Interaction and Language Skills for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or Social Communication Difficulties. It is included in the cost of the program fee.
What happens at the conclusion of the program?
At the conclusion of the program, you will schedule a one-hour feedback session at your convenience. During the feedback session, you will discuss your child’s progress and a plan for additional follow-up, if necessary. This session is included in the cost of the program fee.
What are the statistics, success rates and/or outcomes with Hanen?
The More Than Words Program is based on a large body of research that has shown that children learn to communicate within positive, meaningful interactions with their parents and caregivers and that, when parents become more responsive and sensitive to their children’s communication, the children’s communication skills improve. To date, there have also been three published studies on the More Than Words Program, which you can read about here.
How do I learn more about the program before I sign up?
If you are interested in learning more about the More Than Words® program, you can read more about it here. You are also encouraged to email or call with any questions and to attend an optional, free orientation session.
How do we join More Than Words®
To apply for the More Than Words® program, please contact us for upcoming dates and availability.