Do you have a child on the autism spectrum? Check out this program at Brooklyn College. From February 9th-May 18th (9:30 am- noon), More Than Words® — The Hanen Program for Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder® will be held at The Diana Rogovin Davidow Speech, Language, and Hearing Center at Brooklyn College (4400 Boylan Hall, 2900 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11210). Check out this Q & A with Rachel Cortese, MS Ed, MS CCC-SLPa Pediatric Speech Language Pathologist, who is helping to facilitate the program.

What ages of children does the training group work with? More Than Words® — The Hanen Program for Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder®, is an evidence-based, twelve-week, program for parents and caregivers of young children ages birth to six years with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other Social Communication Disorders.

Tell us a little bit about the training group for parents of children with Autism. In a small group setting, parents and caregivers will learn skills to enhance back-and-forth interactions with their children, help improve their children’s social skills and their understanding of language. The More Than Words® program consists of three individual family sessions and nine small group, parent/caregiver only, training sessions. By the end of the program, parents will know what to say and what to do to be their child’s most important communication teacher. The strategies will become a natural part of their interaction with their child.

What are some issues that parents with children with Autism may face, when they begin to process the diagnosis? Every family is different and, like anybody else, each child with Autism presents with a unique set of strengths and challenges. There is no one size fits all approach to help children with this diagnosis, so finding the right professionals to help in understanding their child’s development and to prioritize treatments is important. Having a child with special needs can be overwhelming and finding the right support and resources to address your child’s unique challenges will make all the difference.

What are some resources parents can find in Brooklyn and NYC, in general, that you could recommend for their children with Autism? Because Autism Spectrum Disorders is such a broad diagnostic category, I always recommend that families start by working with an expert in the field who can provide a comprehensive evaluation to clarify the child’s diagnosis and learning profile.  After completing a comprehensive evaluation, a treatment plan based on the child’s specific needs will guide decisions about the groups and professionals that would be helpful for the child and the family. Depending on the child’s level of functioning, a social skills group, speech and language therapy, specific behavioral therapy and/or intervention for sensory and movement difficulties may be indicated.  A variety of professionals in the New York area can provide these services.

A good starting place for families is the YAI LINK service.  YAI Link is an information and referral source that can help families get connected to services in the NYC area.  Also, the Autism Speaks 100 Day Kit was created specifically for families of children ages 4 and under to make the best possible use of the 100 days following their child’s diagnosis of autism.

Tell us what the group can do to help families who take part? Parents want concrete strategies to use to help their child. The More Than Words strategies were developed by expert speech-language pathologists and is grounded in extensive research. The strategies are easy to understand and easy to put into practice. There will be many opportunities to practice and discuss each strategy so that it will become a natural part of the way parents communicate with their child. The focus of the program is on helping parents discover how to use everyday activities like meal time, story time and bath time to help their child improve communication and social skills. The program also helps families by offering an opportunity to connect with other parents in the same situation. Families who have taken the program in the past reported that this shared experience was one of the greatest benefits.

For more information regarding the program, schedule, and registration information please contact:

Rachel Cortese, MS Ed, MS CCC-SLP
Phone:  (347) 471-0596

Place:  All sessions will be held at The Diana Rogovin Davidow Speech, Language, Hearing Center, 4400 Boylan Hall, Brooklyn College, 2900 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11210

Time:  The group will meet on Thursdays from 9:30am-12pm and will run from February 9th through May 18th

Cost:  $150 per family for the entire 12 week program (Scholarship opportunities available)

More Than Words® — The Hanen Program for Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder® is an evidence-based, twelve-week parent training program for parents of young children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Social Communication disorders.  

Rebecca Conroy grew up in NYC, has been a Brooklynite for 20 years, and is now the mom of two incredible young kids. Aside from writing, she works in photo and film production and has a rich history in the visual arts. Being a Teaching Artist in NYC’s public school system for years has allowed her to work closely with children and her community.