TalkAbility Guidebook for Parents

As adults, we know that there’s more to successful communication than the ability to talk. When we’re having a conversation, we pay attention to non-verbal clues that help us understand what the other person is thinking and feeling, such as body language, facial expressions, eye gaze, and tone of voice.

Most children begin paying attention to these non-verbal clues as infants when they search their parents’ faces for support and acknowledgement. But for autistic children or children with social communication difficulties, this ability to “tune in” to the thoughts and feelings of others often does not develop in the same way or at the same pace as other children.

But this doesn’t mean that your child can’t experience significant improvement in developing social skills. All they need is some extra help and support from the important people in their life like you.

How the TalkAbility parent guidebook can help you

The Hanen Centre designed the TalkAbility­™ guidebook for parents of autistic children ages 3-7 who talk in sentences. Some of these children have a diagnosis of autism or Social Communication Disorder, while others may have no diagnosis at all, but simply have difficulty with social communication.

Many of these children find it difficult to:

  • Have conversations with others
  • Play with children their own age
  • Talk about things that interest someone else
  • Change a routine without becoming very frustrated

Why Choose TalkAbility?

►Tools to “zero in” on your child’s abilities and needs

The TalkAbility guidebook teaches you how conversations work and helps you identify the things your child does well and the things you may be able to support them with. This makes it a lot easier to know how to help them.

You’ll learn, for example, that conversation consists of three parts, referred to in the guidebook as “ICE”:


With the help of the Conversation Checklists in the guidebook, you’ll be able to figure out which of these three parts your child needs the most help with.

Click on the link below to view Conversation Checklist #1: Initiating the Conversation:

►Practical ideas you can use in everyday situations

TalkAbility teaches you how to make the most of the activities you’re already doing with your child. Simple tips and practical strategies will help you tweak the way you interact with your child to create opportunities for them to learn social skills.

Here’s an example of a TalkAbility strategy you can use whenever you talk to your child to help them learn how to have successful conversations:

Use your “I-Cues” to Keep the Conversation Going

When you use this strategy, you’ll be helping your child develop conversation skills by following their lead, waiting for them to respond, and cueing them to take their turn.

Click on the link below to view sample pages from the guidebook explaining the first part of this strategy, “The I’s”  

►A companion guidebook you can keep coming back to

The TalkAbility guidebook is so filled with ideas for helping your child learn social skills that you can keep coming back to it for fresh new ideas. As your child meets certain goals and new ones are set, you can consult the guidebook for tips on how to use the strategies with the new goal in mind. 

►Evidence-based strategies

The strategies you’ll learn from the TalkAbility guidebook are drawn from TalkAbility – The Hanen Program® for Parents of Autistic Children Who Are Speaking in Sentences and Having Conversations. This program is offered all over the world by Hanen Certified speech-language pathologists who specialize in autism and other social communication difficulties.

Like all of Hanen's programs and resources, TalkAbility is grounded in extensive cutting-edge research that shows what works best for helping children who have social communication challenges. Research shows, for example, that children who have conversations with their parents about what others think and feel learn to appreciate different points of view. That’s why TalkAbility teaches you strategies for extending conversations with your child so that they have as much opportunity as possible to learn.

To view a detailed research summary and reference list for TalkAbility, click on the link below:

What the experts say…

TalkAbility contains a wealth of valuable material for parents and caregivers of young children who may have a diagnosis on the autistic spectrum or simply have social difficulties. 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.
Director, Autism Research Centre
Professor of Developmental Psychopathology, University of Cambridge

To help your child build the social skills they need to have extended conversations with others and make new friends, click on the link below to order the TalkAbility guidebook