Week Four Spotlight
Difficulties: Suspected Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Archie is currently going through diagnosis with his paediatrician.
Background: Archie and his parents completed an initial speech and language assessment. This identified that Archie was showing difficulties with his language, speech, play and imagination skills and his social communication. Archie struggles to use his language socially. For example, he:
- Uses language for a limited range of functions. Archie will request things he wants but he will not ‘greet’, ‘comment’ ‘question.’
- Struggles to shift his attention from one focus to the next. Does not respond when his name is called.
- Does not appear to notice those around him and rarely allows his parents to join in his play.
Hearing: All assessments passed
Session: Therapy 2 with Mum, Dad, Archie and Emma.
Archie and his parents are taking part in the Hanen More Than Words Parent-Child Video Interaction Therapy. This therapy involves parents being given strategies to use to develop their interactions with Archie. The therapy is being carried out at the family’s home as this is the place where Archie is most relaxed and comfortable and, by using Archie’s toys, parents are more easily able to carry on the therapy after the session.
Today, parents were introduced to 2 of the 4 ‘I’s of Interaction.’ These 4 I’s are strategies to use which encourage Archie to notice his parents more and allow them to join in, in his play. When Archie is noticing his parents and allowing them to join in his play they will start to have fun together and when Archie is having fun, he is more likely to be able to learn and develop his language skills.
First I – Imitate
This involves parents copying what Archie does in specific play activities e.g. with his bricks.
Second I – Intrude
This involves parents insisting on joining in Archie’s play e.g. by being the ‘keeper of the pieces’: parents take control of the toy items (e.g. bricks) as Archie will be motivated to communicate that he wants them.
Parents were videoed playing with Archie for 5 minutes each as they tried to put the ‘intrude’ and ‘imitate’ strategies in place. We then watched the videos together and paused at points to highlight their excellent use of imitation/intrusion. We also stopped the video at points where we both felt parents could have done something slightly different.
The session ended with both parents being given specific targets to work on during their ‘Special Times’ with Archie (‘Special Time’ is a specific 5-10 minutes that parents identify daily when they play with Archie and focus on their strategies).
Emma will return to the family home in a fortnight to complete Therapy session 3. We opted for fortnightly therapy sessions to give parents enough opportunity to practice the strategies around their work commitments.
Speech and Language Therapists at SpeechRight are Hanen Trained. The Hanen Centre is a leading resource for specialist training and research into children with language delay, disorder and autistic spectrum disorder. Read their article for further information about the benefits of parents with children on the autistic spectrum taking part in the More Than Words Parent-Child Interaction Therapy: