Hanen More Than WordsⓇ: What is it and how can it help my child?

Our Speech Pathologist Thida completed training in May of 2022 in the administration of the Hanen More Than WordsⓇ (MTW) program. Below, Thida goes through what the Hanen MTWⓇ program involves, who it’s helpful for and the benefits of the program. 


What is Hanen More Than Words?

Hanen MTWⓇ is an evidence-based training program that can be accessed by parents, educators or key persons (e.g. relative, carer) of a child who has a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder or experiences difficulties with social communication (i.e. using communication to understand, share and respond to others). The program provides participants with information and strategies to understand the child’s social communication profile, and support the development of communication skills (verbal and nonverbal), setting and targeting appropriate goals and enhancing your interactions with the child. 


The Hanen MTWⓇ program involves a pre-program consultation session, 8 small-group training sessions and 3 video feedback sessions (completed between the 8 training sessions). A Hanen MTWⓇ guidebook is also used throughout the program that includes the content being covered in the program as well as a variety of example activities for participants. Typically, participants are required to purchase the guidebook; however the facility you access your Hanen MTWⓇ program through may be able to offer a loan (though many participants prefer purchasing the guidebook so they can continue to refer back to the information after the program is finished). 


While the program is designed to be completed in small groups to allow for participant-to-participant learning and idea sharing, it can be completed with an individual following the same structure. Only therapists who are trained in Hanen MTWⓇ are able to facilitate these programs, or embed the Hanen Philosophies into individual speech therapy sessions. 


Who is Hanen More Than WordsⓇ helpful for?

The Hanen MTWⓇ program is best suited for parents, educators, support workers or key persons (e.g. a relative) of a child who is experiencing difficulties with social communication. This may look like: 

  • Not using any words to communicate, 
  • Not paying attention when being spoken to, 
  • Only talking to ask for what they want, 
  • Difficulties responding to or talking about questions and topics you say, 
  • Using behaviour to communicate (e.g. pointing, yelling, crying) what they want. 


When completing the program, it is recommended that the participants come with one certain child in mind. This is due to the nature of the program, which builds on the information and strategies taught in the previous session. Focusing on one child’s profile allows the participant to complete the full learning cycle (i.e. learning how to identify the social communication level, set goals at this level, use strategies at this level and progress skills).  


What are the benefits of the Hanen More Than WordsⓇ program?

The Hanen MTWⓇ program (and the structure it is run in) has many benefits that can appeal to certain individual learning styles, and help support autonomy for parents, carers and key persons. These include:


  1. Comprehensive education – the program provides education and training around social communication levels, appropriate goal setting and personalising strategies to your individual environment and child. This helps participants to more independently understand and structure how they develop their child’s communication and measure how they’re progressing.
  2. Positive interactions – Hanen MTWⓇ specifically targets fostering meaningful and positive interactions between the child and adult, so both experience more enjoyment in playing and interacting together.
  3. Small group learning – participating in a small group means participants are able to meet, learn with and seek new ideas from the others in the Program. Participants can share ideas for activities and strategies that they use at home, as a fellow parent/carer/worker that is navigating supporting the child in the home/daycare environment.
  4. Video Feedback – while most cringe at the idea of having to watch and listen to themselves on video, this is a key learning tool used in Hanen MTWⓇ that allows for participants to develop self-reflective skills. Participants learn to notice more subtle behaviours from their child as well as monitor their own strategy use ‘in the moment’, so they can adapt their behaviour in day-to-day interactions without relying on the therapist to direct them.
  5. Centred around day-to-day life – the Hanen MTWⓇ strategies and teachings are specifically designed to be used within the everyday moments you have with your child, including meal times, bath time and bedtime. This means the strategies and practise can be more easily transferred to home/daycare and be used more consistently, as separate time is not having to be made to complete the practise.

Here at Cooee Speech Pathology, we have a couple of Speech Pathologists who are HanenⓇ trained. For any questions about Hanen MTWⓇ, or to seek Hanen services, please contact the Client Care team on email at [email protected] or via phone on (07) 3265 4495. Alternatively, you can access the HanenⓇ website on: http://www.hanen.org/Programs/For-Parents.aspx for information about accessing a workshop online/local to you. 

Thida Hantun

Speech Pathologist