It Takes Two to Talk® from Georgia to Iraq: One Family’s Story

We recently heard an inspiring story about the innovative use of Hanen’s It Takes Two To Talk® parent guidebook by an army family at Fort Benning in Georgia, USA.

Dad, a major in the army, was deployed in Iraq on his tour of duty. Mom was back home caring for their young son, Michael. Worried that Michael was slow in developing his speech and language skills, she attended a Hanen It Takes Two to Talk Program, near home.

The It Takes Two to Talk Program is led by Hanen-trained speech-language pathologists (SLPs) around the world for groups of parents of children with language delays. Over the course of the program, parents gain the knowledge and tools they need to help their child learn language during everyday activities. A parent guidebook, also titled It Takes Two to Talk, is one of the main resources used in the program. Mom and Dad found an innovative way to take advantage of the fact that this guidebook was designed for stand-alone use by parents. 

Dad was still stationed in Iraq for the first two thirds of the program. He was scheduled to return to Georgia in time for the last few sessions. With this in mind, Mom purchased a second copy of the It Takes Two to Talk guidebook. In consultation with the Hanen SLP leading the It Takes Two to Talk Program, Mom had chosen to focus on strategies that encouraged Michael  to interact more frequently with her since that seemed to be what he needed most.

As she attended the early sessions of the program, Mom came to realize that Michael’s opportunities to learn to communicate were limited by how infrequently he started interactions with her and by how brief these interactions were. So she worked on observing, waiting and listening (OWLing) to him so she could pick up on his subtle efforts to communicate with her. She started to notice that he would look up at her without saying anything when he was enjoying playing with a toy or when something unexpected happened. She also noticed that he would make a quiet “uh” sound to ask for more of something, like juice or crackers. Once she was aware of this communication, she could then follow his lead and respond with interest, encouraging him to communicate with her again.

Mom highlighted and marked the sections of the It Takes Two to Talk guidebook that she thought important for her husband to read and then mailed this copy to him. 

While in holding in Kuwait prior to his return, Dad took the time to review the relevant sections his wife had highlighted for him. Because of this creative use of the parent guidebook, both mother and father were “on the same page” when supporting their son’s communication development from the moment the family was reunited upon his return from Iraq. Dad was primed to Observe, Wait and Listen to Michael, who was already communicating far more frequently by the time his dad came home.

This heartwarming story illustrates just one of the many possible applications of Hanen’s resources and how these resources can help families be families – just by giving them the tools to both encourage their child to communicate and to be more responsive communicators with their child. 

For more information about Hanen’s It Takes Two to Talk resources, and how they may be able to help you, click here.