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Early Bird course - Should I attend?

(25 Posts)
sleepyhorse Thu 28-Jul-11 21:58:39


My DS1 is 3.5 yrs old and is delayed with his language (says approx 50 single words and pronounces most of them very badly). He has had his first appoint now with the pediatrician as we thought he might be autistic. After assessing him for 2 hours she ruled out classic autism and thinks that he might just be delayed in his development due to sibling jealousy and thinks that he is very strong willed hence the short attention span and own agenda etc etc. She will see him again in 6 months time but has suggested that in the meantime we carry on with the L&S therapy sessions and should attend the EarlyBird course. Im a bit confused though as I thought this course was aimed at parents with autistic children, it sounds like a lot of hours - obviously if I think it will be beneficial then I will attend but don't really want to go if its going to be a waste of time. I need to let the lady that runs it know by tomorrow. Would appreciate some advice please. Thanks :-)

EllenJaneisnotmyname Thu 28-Jul-11 22:43:25

I found it useful, especially as a way to network with other parents, but I couldn't attend until my DS had his ASD DX, so I am a bit confused that you have been referred to a course without a DX. It was all about ASD and it did mean quite a commitment, it was during the day, we had to get child care and time off work. I would have thought a Hanen SALT course would have been more appropriate. confused

sleepyhorse Thu 28-Jul-11 22:50:54

Thanks Ellen- what is SALT? - is that different to normal Lang and speech therapy? I don't understand why she wants to refer us on this particular course if she doesn't think he is asd unless there is something she is not telling me.

sleepyhorse Thu 28-Jul-11 22:56:34

Sorry I meant, what is hanen SALT?

EllenJaneisnotmyname Thu 28-Jul-11 23:09:54

It's a SALT technique that involves following the child's interest and commenting on what they are focussed on rather than trying to get them interested in what you want them to say. A lot of EarlyBird is based on Hanen, but with an ASD bias. Hanen isn't ASD specific. There are two great Hanen books, 'It Takes Two to Talk,' and the ASD 'More than Words.' The second I found really helpful, the first isn't ASD specific. Expensive but cheaper from Winslow. They either accompany the course or can be stand alone. Your SALT may recommend them, my DS's did.

chuckeyegg Fri 29-Jul-11 07:26:35

Definately go if you can, they have lost funding around here. I have applied twice.

oneaminute Fri 29-Jul-11 09:21:07

EarlyBird is a 10 week (x 3 hours) course for parents and nursery staff of preschool children. Each 'family' can attend with 3 adults (one being from a nursery/preschool).

It is not linked to Hanen whatsoever.

It's usually run by your LA under licence from the NAS

In our area there is a long waiting list so usually if you're offered a place you grab it.

It's a chance to learn strategies and share experiences with other parents in addition to learning pretty much everything about ASD there is to know.

More info here

strange to be offered a place if they are saying not ASD

ArthurPewty Fri 29-Jul-11 09:25:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mariamagdalena Fri 29-Jul-11 09:37:08

LeonieD, the video discussions are helpful if they're well done. The facilitatir should invite the parent to comment first. And then ask the other parents for positive comments. Then you make suggestions for alternative approaches and if you want you can ask the group for their ideas. And the parent gets to judge if those would have helped or not.

The ideal is to choose your own snippet to bring along (having watched it yourself beforehand) so you pick something you want new ideas for, but that you feel confident about displaying in public. I'd also suggest being one of the last parents to present a video, so you have got to know everyone first.

If the video sessions aren't dine in this format you'd be right to steer clear till you feel more confident and less wobbly.

oneaminute Fri 29-Jul-11 09:40:55

Some confusion here. EarlyBird is not videoed. Am pretty sure that's Hanen's More than Words.

Terrible if parents are turning down EarlyBird for that reason.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Fri 29-Jul-11 10:58:46

My EarlyBird course was videoed, the course leaders came to my house and videoed my DS and I interacting 3 times. If you have also done the Hanen course you will see that some of the EarlyBird course is based on it. Oneaminute, you seem to have done some stripped down type of EarlyBird, maybe there was a bit if money saving going on.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Fri 29-Jul-11 11:02:07

Oneaminute, if you have a look at your own link, it states that videoing is used.

bochead Fri 29-Jul-11 11:09:08

Does Earlybird Plus use video?

If so I'll attend but avoid those speficic sessions! I don't trust my lea/pct enough to let them video in my home after the experiences I've had this year. As it is I'll have two witnesses present for the home visit parts. Nope I'm not in the least concerned about telling them why either in case anyone wonders - too much distrust has built up on my part towards the "professionals" that are supposed to support us.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Fri 29-Jul-11 11:39:48

Bochead, in my DS's videoing sessions, they gave you a small task to do with your child to try to improve the quality of your interactions. As it was EarlyBird, not plus, it was something like singing and playing 'Row, row, row your boat.' So you practised playing the game and then they came and videoed you doing it. That was then presented to the other families next time. You discussed how the interaction went, eye contact, etc and how the game could be improved to include more language etc. It really didn't feel like criticism in my case, more helping you to make more of your 1:1 time, things that you don't have to try hard with NT children.

But I hadn't had any negative experiences with professionals at that point. (That came later!) So maybe I was more open to the whole thing. I did find that my Hanen reading and the advice of our lovely SALT (we already used PECS at home) had already covered most of the EarlyBird course. So it was a bit of a waste of time from that perspective. I really benefitted from the network of other families, though.

TotalChaos Fri 29-Jul-11 18:09:52

when I did Hanen, the SALTs running it were pretty decent and empathetic types, so the videoing was just between you and the SALT, and not played back to the group, as they found that parents were often uncomfortable with being video'd in their home.

ArthurPewty Fri 29-Jul-11 20:39:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ArthurPewty Fri 29-Jul-11 20:39:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Fri 29-Jul-11 21:40:25

Yes Leonie, you have to be in the right place to be happy to be videoed I'm sure. TotalChaos's experience sounds less threatening, but you'd still have to trust the professionals involved. There were 2 women who took my EarlyBird course and one was lovely and the other a patronising cow who found autism 'so interesting.' It's not quite so interesting when it's your life, though, is it?

sleepyhorse Fri 29-Jul-11 22:19:59

Thanks for all your helpful advice. Sounds like a mixed bag re the course. Have to say I'm not one that likes to be videod and criticised. I just don't know what to think with ds, I can't look at him and see anything beyond a child who just has a delay with his speech, but then maybe I'm in denial. not sure what the paed means when she says he doesn't have classic autism, could this mean she still thinks he is on the spectrum? I'm confused. Need to make a decision by Monday re the early bird course. X

working9while5 Sat 30-Jul-11 10:51:56

It really shouldn't involve criticism at all. That's not the purpose of it, it's about externalising e.g. having that opportunity to look at the interaction when not involved directly in it, because when you're "in the moment" as a parent you are instinctively so focused on what's happening that it's difficult to be able to think about what's happening in a coherent way.

I think this is something that's true for all parent-child interaction.. I often think of the Health Visitor trying to talk to me over a screaming newborn and how I literally couldn't hear or process what she was saying because I was obviously totally engaged with the screaming. Also, sometimes it's too hard to explain an interaction.. so the purpose of video is to let the video do the talking, so that you don't have to verbalise it, you can just look at what's happening.

In our department, we do a lot of Adult-Child Interaction courses (practitioners come on some, parents on others) and it's been hotly debated in our team in terms of where it should go on a pathway because we know, as women too, that watching yourself on video is something that can be very uncomfortable even if you didn't have to also deal with the emotional impact of videos like these. Sometimes even if you're not at all feeling vulnerable just a shot of a double chin will override all other things you can see in a video!

In my experience, there are a group of people it is really helpful for.. who are generally happy to see themselves on video (and perhaps take a lot of video at home so are used to seeing themselves etc) and who can view the video appropriately. It's not for everyone.

I have also used video to demonstrate things like joint attention e.g. to point out things like social referencing of eye gaze e.g. as an education tool. I don't know if they do any of this in Early Bird as I am not Early Bird trained, but this can be a useful thing to do because it can be hard to explain in words!

TotalChaos Sat 30-Jul-11 10:56:45

yes, IME it's not about criticism, but about positively pointing out opportunities to really "hone" an interaction for the purpose of developing language/communication. I can definitely see the argument for limiting the video viewing to between SALT and parents though.

ArthurPewty Sat 30-Jul-11 11:08:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ArthurPewty Sat 30-Jul-11 11:09:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bochead Sat 30-Jul-11 16:25:12

I can't post on an open forum what we've been through this year but hell will freeze over before I allow a video camera into my home from anyone whose files may be accessed at a later date by lord knows who and the information within twisted out of context to suit an agenda that isn't in my child's best interest. Sadly none of these professionals work in isolation so if you have issues with the intregity of just one it can infect ALL the professionals your child has contact with, nothing is confidential.

I'm doing the earlybird plus course later in the year, primarily so that my lad's TA can learn about autism. The more the 21 year old who actually has most say over my kids education on a day to day basis - the better for my son as I see it. The home visits will be supervised by two witnesses and there will be no video. I see the real value of the course in the building of a better link between home/school as so many school staff have very little training in autism.

I did go on the ambitiousaboutautism course run at Treehouse and was so impressed by that set up (totally independent of my local pct/lea) that I've signed up for a few more courses relevant to my sons needs with them. I'd also highly rec their courses to other parents, (very ABA focused but you don't have to be a fulltime ABA family to get a lot from them).

The open university also do what looks to be an interesting unit on autism that might be helpful to parents at the beginning of the journey.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Sat 30-Jul-11 16:35:03

That seems sensible, bochead. No reason why they can't be flexible in that way so you and the TA will still get the benefit from the course. EarlyBird (and probably plus) is not very ABA, though, much more traditional methods, some of which are still good.

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