TalkAbility™

A parent program for verbally fluent children with social communication difficulties (including children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder).

About the TalkAbility™ Program

Talkability is a program for the parents of children who have significant social communication challenges and are verbally fluent. Children do not require a diagnosis for the program. However, some children may have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) within the low support needs or ‘high functioning’ range.

The focus of the program is on helping the children establish friendships by enhancing social communication skills such as conversation skills. As a parent, you can see firsthand how your child’s social communication difficulties make it challenging for him/her to connect with others and have meaningful conversations. The TalkAbility Program gives you a variety of practical and powerful tools to help your child “tune in” to the feelings and thoughts of others – which is where successful conversations begin. By helping your child see things from another person’s perspective, you’ll enable him/her to have more effective conversations and make friends more easily.

Who Does TalkAbility Help?

The TalkAbility Program is the right fit for you and your child if you can answer “yes” to more than one of the following questions:

  • Does your child find it difficult to hold a conversation with others?
  • Does your child get along better with adults than children?
  • Does your child insist on talking to other children about things the other children aren’t interested in?
  • Does your child get upset if his or her routines change?

What Parents Learn in the TalkAbility Program

At the TalkAbility Program, you’ll learn practical strategies that you can easily build into your child’s everyday life. You’ll use these strategies to:

  • Help your child have effective back-and forth conversations
  • Encourage your child to pay attention to the social messages people send non-verbally
  • Model the language your child needs in order to talk about his feelings and those of other people
  • Help your child interact with other children and make friends

When is the program running?

The program is 13 sessions which will most likely run between 6.30-8.30pm on Wednesday evenings.
There will be 9 weeks (not consecutive) when you will need to attend the group sessions without your children and a further 3 individual sessions with you, your child and the Speech Pathologist running the program.

How much does the program cost?

The cost of the program is $1975 per family. The cost breaks down to a cost of approximately $89.75 per hour of the program, a substantial reduction on the normal hourly fees for services at Annie’s Centre. This cost is regardless of whether one or two parents attend.

The cost will cover the pre-program individual session with the Speech-Language Pathologist, all group sessions, the individual video feedback sessions and all materials, including a copy of the book TalkAbility by Sussman, which is a valuable resource for parents to keep.
FaHCSIA funding can be used to pay for this program.

Why Are Parents Involved in the TalkAbility Program?

Research shows that children on the autism spectrum who have conversations with their parents about what others think and feel, learn to appreciate different points of view, which improves their ability to make friends. Because your child is most comfortable at home with you, there’s no better place for him/her to learn that, in order to be a good communication partner, he/she must tune-in to the feelings and opinions of others. Once you’ve gained the skills to help your child tune-in to others, TalkAbility then guides you in helping him/her to use these skills in order to make friends more easily. You’ll gain many ideas and strategies for finding the right friend, knowing when to step in to help the friendship along and when to stay in the background, letting the children work out the play themselves.

The TalkAbility Program Offers

  • A consultation before the program for you and your child with a Hanen Certified Speech-language Pathologist to identify your child’s unique needs
  • A series of informative and personal classes for small groups of parents, where they can share their stories and learn in a comfortable environment
  • Three individual consultations for you and your child with your Hanen Certified Speech-language Pathologist during which:
    • you discuss communication goals and specific strategies that will help your child
    • you are given “live” coaching by videotaping you interacting with your child, using the strategies you learned in the previous group sessions. The video is then reviewed and discussed with you so you can “see” what is helping and what else you can do to help your child learn
  • your child is videotaped playing with another child while you coach and support him/her as necessary. This videotape is also reviewed and discussed with the Speech-language Pathologist

What Parents and Professionals Say

“After my child learned to talk, I didn’t know what to do next – I just knew he needed more help. The TalkAbility program gave me a thousand new ideas on how to help him progress to the next level, both in his conversation and play with other children. He still plays with the little boy he met through the program.”
– Tracy, mother of Aidan

“After two years of talking to therapists and reading about Autism, TalkAbility finally helped me understand why my son has difficulty interpreting another person’s feelings. And better yet, I now have constructive, practical strategies to help him. I’ve also met an amazing group of parents in similar situations, who even after the course has ended, continue to be a wonderful support.”
-Mother who attended TalkAbility in 2013.

“Beautifully written, clear and immediately usable, there are few books that parents will find as accessible and full of useful tips as this one.”
– Simon Baron-Cohen, Ph.D. discussing the book TalkAbility which is used in the Program
Director, Autism Research Centre
Professor of Developmental Psychopathology
University of Cambridge

I’m interested, what do I do now?

Please contact us to register your interest.