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Chuck Carney
IU School of Education
ccarney@indiana.edu
812-856-8027

Last modified: Friday, February 1, 2008

School of Education seeks parents of young children with autism for research study

Program designed to help parents support child’s language development

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 1, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana University School of Education invites parents of children with autism spectrum disorders age 5 and under to take part in a study examining a method of assisting in language development. An orientation for the free program More Than Words is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 7, from 6:30-8 p.m. in room 3284 of the School of Education.

Participants in the study will be a part of a 14-week program that includes a pre-program and post-program consultation, eight group meetings with other parents of children with autism and three individual parent-child coaching sessions. The More Than Words program was developed by the Hanen Center in Toronto, Canada. The study's principal investigator said the program is compatible with other interventions for children with autism.

Andrea McDuffie

Andrea McDuffie

Print-Quality Photo

"More Than Words is designed to provide parents with strategies they can use in everyday interactions with their children during the day," said Andrea McDuffie, a licensed and certified speech pathologist and assistant professor of special education in the IU School of Education. "At home, mealtime, getting dressed, playing -- the More Than Words strategies are naturalistic and will fit very nicely into daily routines."

More Than Words is organized around four major goals: improving two-way interaction, developing more mature and conventional communication, communicating better for social purposes and improving language understanding. The program is implemented by a speech pathologist certified by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association who completes additional training from the Hanen Center.

"The theoretical orientation of the Hanen Center is that language is learned within the context of natural back-and-forth interactions between parent and child, and there are things that parents can do throughout the day to support their children's language development," McDuffie said.

She said that using these strategies is important for children with autism since they have more difficulty picking up subtle social cues that help typically developing children learn language.

"We're trying to help parents compensate for the language learning problems that children with autism face by teaching parents strategies that can support their children's language that are not so demanding of the child," she said.

For more information about the study, contact McDuffie at mcduffie@indiana.edu. The Hanen Center Web site provides information about "More Than Words at http://www.hanen.org.

Media outlets: the following comments are available as mp3 files on the IU School of Education Website at http://site.educ.indiana.edu/news/tabid/5663/Default.aspx. Look for the story headline under "Podcasts."

McDuffie describes what the program can provide for parents of children with autism spectrum disorders:

"Try to provide parents with strategies they can use in everyday interactions with their children during the day, at home, mealtime, getting dressed, playing, strategies that are naturalistic and will fit very nicely into daily routine."

McDuffie explains the basis for the More Than Words program:

"The theoretical orientation of the Henin Center is that language is learned within the context of naturalistic back-and-forth parent and child interactions and there are things that parents can do to support their children's language development. It's particularly important with children with autism, because those children are challenged in the ability to pick up on social cues that people use that help typically developing children learn language. So what we're trying to do is help parents compensate for the social interaction problems that children with autism face and teach parents strategies that can support their children's language that are not so demanding of the child."