More Than Words Launched in Medicine Hat
In June of 2010, Vicki Glass, Preschool Special Needs Coordinator with Medicine Hat School District No. 76, approached Speech & Language Works to present More Than Words® to the teachers and Educational Assistants in the Preschool Development Programs (PDP) within the district.
I reviewed the program, looking for adaptations that would allow us to use the program with a different population, in a different setting and with approximately 40 people (26 teachers and Educational Assistants for the PDPs and 14 other teachers).
Following discussions with Fern Sussman, Program Director for More Than Words® and Talkability™, it was decided to present three full-day sessions including material from sessions 1 through 5 as well as session 8. We agreed to complete two video sessions in each of the 5 PDPs, with two video review sessions in each of the five PDPs, with two video review sessions in each program and one final consultation session in each classroom at the end of the program. Speech-language pathologists from Alberta Health Services were available in the PDPs and during the sessions to provide additional support to the participants.
The SSCAN session from Learning Language and Loving It™ was also included to help participants apply the strategies in their classroom setting. Most participants had at least an introduction to the basic Hanen strategies or more formal training prior to taking the adapted More Than Words® program.
The full-day presentations in November 2010, January 2011 and March 2011 worked well. We had enough time to videotape the PDP classrooms, although a lot of material was covered each day.
Everyone soon became accustomed to me videotaping and coaching in their rooms and enjoyed watching the results of their hard work. Participants reported that the information was relevant for their classrooms, enjoyed the review and practice of key Hanen strategies and liked being able to use the informal assessments for children with ASD and developmental delays. Even though the thought of videotaped coaching sessions is always stressful, participants indicated that this was an excellent learning tool to look more closely at the children, identify strategies they were using, and where other strategies could have been used.
In the future, we hope to provide More Than Words® to parents in the PDP programs. We also have plans to utilize the teachers and educational assistants training and experience to provide support to families in the classroom and reinforce the strategies in the program.