Attending the Hanen ‘More Than Words’ workshop, I had no idea what to expect. It is a workshop designed specifically for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). However, I found the strategies I learnt are applicable to both my children diagnosed with ASD and those without. I gained some invaluable skills and knowledge that can be applied universally.

The first day was daunting, I met so many other speech pathologists and many with years more experience than me. I found it challenging because the senior speech pathologists had extensive examples to draw on and contribute; whereas, I had limited experiences to provide. However, by the end of the three-day workshop, I was empowered. I gained so much knowledge and encouragement from the cohort. I walked away equipped with confidence, skills and reinforcement for the skills and techniques I had been applying. It was a well worthwhile workshop and enhanced my professional practice exponentially.

Prior to the commencement of the workshop, I was required to complete a pre-workshop assignment. This gave us a taste of what the workshop would entail. The first day included intense learning about stages: the ‘Own Agenda’ stage, ‘Requester’ stage, ‘Early Communicator’ stage and ‘Partner’ stage. These stages are established by the parent or carer in collaboration with the speech therapist and determine what to expect for their child’s next step in language and communication skills. I thought this was a wonderful way to demonstrate and explain how a child’s communication progresses.

We then focused on ‘Follow Your Child’s Lead’ which was the idea which resonated with me the most. It’s important to consider that your child may be more interested in, for example, a block itself rather than whatever you are trying to build using blocks. ‘OWLing’ can be used here – OWL stands for Observe, Wait and Listen.

  1. ‘Observe’ your child to find out what they’re interested in. Be flexible and incorporate that language into a game relevant to their interest.
  2. ‘Wait’ means exactly that – wait. Give your child the opportunity to listen and consider your question before demanding a response.
  3. ‘Listen’ refers to listening to the sounds your child is already making and building on those sounds while encouraging them to be functional.

This blog is just a small taste of what ‘More Than Words’ had to offer. It was a valuable and insightful workshop.

Hanen Website