More Than Words is a wonderful book for parents of young children on the autism spectrum. It is targeted for children ages six years and under and teaches parents practical strategies of how to teach communication skills in natural ways. The book begins by helping parents to identify what "stage of communication" their child is in-- "Own Agenda Stage," " Requester Stage," "Early Communication Stage," or "Partner stage." I will say that the book is quite large and could initially seem overwhelming to many. Once you figure out which level of communication applies to your child, however, you can easily skip to those sections of the book to develop specific goals and learn concrete strategies (they are even color coded)!
These days parents are busy shuffling children around to various therapies and extracurricular activities and thinking of adding one more thing to your plate can seem like too much-- what I love about this book is that it teaches parents ways of interacting and communicating with their child in everyday life--throughout the day in fun and playful ways. Among many topics discussed, this book teaches parents some of the following skills:
- Ways to set up situations that elicit communication for your child by following his/her lead
- Ideas of how to keep interactions going in a back and forth way
- Teaching your child social routines and beginning skills in identifying emotions
- Tips on how you can adjust your language and simplify it in a way that is sensitive to your child's level of communication
- Using "Visual Helpers," such as object, photograph, icon, or written schedules to provide predictability and to aid in understanding
- How to use visuals in helping your child tell you about his/her day, and to start and keep a conversation going by greeting others, asking questions, and making comments
- Ideas of how to use music and other possible areas of interest for your child to encourage interaction and communication
- Ways to use books to encourage language and communication
- Ideas of toys to help develop play skills in young children depending on their level of understanding
- Tips on how to structure play dates to be meaningful and successful for your child
Colorful illustrations accompany the explanation of activities, making it easier to understand and to actually put into practice. Parents are also able to make photocopies of visual schedule items provided in the book to use at home. Although the book talks some about manipulating the schedule, some children may need more individualized strategies to promote true independence (e.g. carrying cards with them to match schedule items to the location for children who are easily distracted), but I think the strategies mentioned are practicable for implementation in real life. I think families of children with autism will have a lot of fun using these methods to communicate with and engage their children while promoting learning along the way!