Program Review: Hanen – More Than Words


The More Than Words Program was designed for parents of children ages 5 and who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This program addresses the unique needs of these children. It provides parents with strategies and support they need to help their children reach their fullest communication potential.

More Than Words is an evidence based program that was developed by expert speech-language pathologists.  The program itself is only delivered by Hanen Certified Speech-language pathologists who have completed specialized training from The Hanen Centre.

What goals will be targeted in More Than Words?

There are three specific goals targeted in this program:

  1. Improving your child’s social skills.
  2. The ability for your child to engage in back-and-forth interactions
  3. Improving your child’s understanding of language.

What will I learn when I attend the More Than Words program?

You will learn the following:

  • How your child learns best and what motivates him to communicate
  • Why your child behaves in certain ways, and what you can do to either increase or reduce those behaviours
  • How to use your knowledge about your child to set realistic goals
  • How to make interactions with your child last longer and be more meaningful
  • Tips for using pictures and print to help your child’s understanding
  • Tips on how to talk so that your child understands you
  • Strategies for developing your child’s play skills
  • Ways to help your child make friends

One example of a strategy you will learn in the program is ROCK

Repeat what you say and do
Offer opportunities for your child to take a turn
Cue your child to take his turn; and
Keep it fun! Keep it going!

What does the More Than Words program consist of?

The program consists of:

  • 8 training sessions in small, personalized groups
  • A Hanen Certified speech-language pathologist leading the program
  • A pre-program consultation for you and your child with your speech-language pathologist
  • Three individual visits for you and your child with your speech-language pathologist in which you are videotaped while practicing with your child. Then, you and your speech-language pathologist watch the video tape together and see what is helping and what you could do to help your child even further.

What do I need to get started?

You will need to locate a program nearest you. You will also need the More Than Words guidebook: A Parent’s Guide to Building Interaction and Language Skills for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or Social Communication Difficulties (you may choose to purchase this book a head of time to get a start on your learning, if you are waiting for a program).

What are the benefits of taking the More Than Words program?

The program teaches practical strategies you can use in everyday situations

The More Than Words Program focuses on your natural, day-to-day life with your child. You will be able to take everyday activities like meal time, story time and bath time and use them to help your child improve his communication and social skills. And you’ll have fun together while you’re doing it!

The More Than Words approach is easy to understand and easy to put into practice. With each strategy you learn, you will be given the opportunity to practice this with your child and receive feedback from the Speech Language Pathologist.

Look for a program near you!

GwenBlackburn-220Gwen is a Communicative Disorders Assistant with more than 17 years of experience working with a diverse client base.  Her experiences have provided her with the wonderful opportunity to be associated with adults suffering from brain injuries, those that have experienced a stroke, children with articulation and language difficulties and children who have a limited word repertoire.

Should I disclose my acquired brain injury (ABI)? – Part 4

shutterstock_217177108“I’m not coming back to work” is not cocktail party talk!

In this final installment of this blog series on the difficulties of disclosing an acquired brain injury, you will meet Matt (whose name and details have been modified). Matt has had a hard time coming up with what to say when asked when he will be returning to work.

Matt’s co-workers know about his Acquired Brain Injury – in fact, they understand it well, as they are healthcare providers. Following his brain injury, when he attended social functions, he became very worried about his co-workers asking when he was coming back to work. This question came up several times and left Matt stumped. Matt knew that he was not able to return to his demanding job in healthcare. He no longer had his previously strong communication skills which had allowed him to perform his job at the level that was needed. Matt was not ready to disclose, “I’m not returning”. Within his treatment sessions we developed the phrase, “that’s up to my doctors” as a short-term response until he is ready to share that he wouldn’t be returning.

The phrase “it’s up to my doctors” worked well at cocktail and dinner parties. He felt better about being able to share the truth in more private situations where he didn’t have to be in the spotlight about something that was emotionally difficult for him, and possibly the other party-goers.


Within this series, you met Allana – who struggled with balancing the amount of information to share with potential romantic partners online; Malek – who found ways to skirt the issues related to his injuries and trauma; Melanie – who chose not to disclose her situation to her teachers; and now Matt who found an easy way to delay sharing details until a more private moment.

These four examples show some of the many different issues that influence whether and how to disclose a brain injury. If you have difficulty communicating due to a brain injury or other condition, a Speech-Language Pathologist can help you to find the answers to your questions about sharing your story with others.

There is no right way to deal with this delicate topic. You are an individual with a unique style of communicating and a unique comfort level with sharing your personal information. Let us work with you to figure out what works best in your particular situation.

Are you debating with yourself about whether to disclose your brain injury (or another injury/illness) to others?

BobiTychynskiShimoda-220Bobi Tychynski Shimoda is a Speech-Language Pathologist with more than a decade of experience working with neurological communication and swallowing disorders. She has worked in a variety of settings including inpatient rehab, acute care, community, and private practise. She is highly skilled in assessment, and innovative treatment approaches.

Program Review: Fast ForWord

shutterstock_147597611What is Fast ForWord?

Fast ForWord is a set of computer programs designed by Scientific Learning to help develop cognitive skills and reading fluency. Some of these cognitive skills include attention, memory, processing and sequencing related to reading and learning. It also targets listening comprehension, following directions, grammar, vocabulary, phonological awareness and phonics and auditory processing.

For example, one specifically targets auditory processing speed by having the child click on arrows (up and down) matching a specific sound sequence.  This specific activity is supposed to train the brain to process incoming auditory information faster. This in turn would help with processing understanding auditory sounds (e.g. teachers instructions). A child would login and play 3 to 5 of the games a day in order to help them improve their skills.

Who should use it?

Children who have difficulty reading and have not been helped by traditional methods could benefit from training using the Fast ForWord programs. Children diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder and various other disorders might also benefit from the programs.

The Scientific Learning research has shown improvement in children with the following disorders/disabilities:

  • Auditory processing disorder
  • Dyslexia
  • Specific Language Impairment
  • Specific Learning disability
  • Autism

How does it work?

There are 4 key components that Scientific learning has based their software on in order to exercise the brain to process incoming information more quickly.

  1. Frequency and intensity
  2. Adaptivity
  3.  Simultaneous Development
  4. Timely motivation

The programs all have repetitive activities, for a short period of time (10-20min per activity), and adjust as the child progresses – if he/she is having difficulty the software adjusts until the child can achieve more accuracy at each level and then moves up with correct responses. It develops both reading skills and cognitive skills simultaneously so as to improve learning and motivates children to move through the levels with cool graphics and rewards.

The Fast ForWord Programs

Fast ForWord Language Series: This is an elementary level program series built around what students in Elementary school years should know and be learning. The 2 programs in this series focus on: developing listening accuracy, phonological awareness, and language structures; building both working and long-term memory; improving attention; developing auditory, visual and linguistic processing of incoming auditory in formation; and developing sequencing skills.

Fast ForWord Literacy Series: This is secondary school leveled program designed for preteen and teenage readers build their confidence and improve their academic achievement. This program focuses on improving phonological awareness and language structures as well as listening accuracy.  It improves memory, improves attention, strengthens processing and develops sequencing through various activities.

Fast ForWord Reading Series: This set of programs has 6 levels as is designed for all levels of reading (beginning with Reading Readiness) and aims to build processing efficiency and critical reading skills. Each of the levels helps build memory, improve attention, and develop processing and sequencing skills. The levels increase in difficulty and reading level and each child can be placed at the level that is most appropriate for their skill level.

Other programs offered by Scientific learning: Reading Assistant and Brainpro.

LynseyWilson-220Lynsey Wilson is a Communication Disorders assistant with experience treating a wide range of clients with varying ages and disorders. She also has her Early Childhood Educator certificate and specializes in working with pediatric clients. Lynsey enjoys working with a variety of age groups to keep her on her toes!