Our chat tonight, November 26, 2001, will be hosted by Dr. Patricia M. Yacobacci
who will be addressing the topic of Language Groups and counseling parents
whose children have speech and language disorders. Patricia M. Yacobacci,
Ph.D., CCC/SLP, is the Director of the Undergraduate Program, Department
of Speech Pathology and Audiology at New York University. She has two
major areas of interest, information processing relative to linguistic/speech
factors, and family involvement (both nationally and internationally) in the
development of optimum communication environments for communicatively
handicapped children. Dr. Yacobacci made a presentation at the ASHA
convention last week, Parent/Toddler Language Groups: Understanding and
Facilitating Culturally Appropriate Communication.
<Robin> We are chatting tonight with Dr. Patricia M. Yacobacci from NYU who will
address the topic of Language Groups and counseling parents whose children have
speech and language disorders.
<Patricia Yacobacci> do you have questions about parent language groups?
<allison> I am only a senior, I would love to know more about what a language group
<Patricia Yacobacci> Sure - these groups are usually small and are designed for
parents of special needs children
<Patricia Yacobacci> The focus is on knowing more about their child's language
needs and environment
<AdrienneFSU> is it to provide support or to instruct techniques for working with their
<Patricia Yacobacci> yes --- and to help them understand the "why" of what the
professional tells them
<Robin> what is the typical age group of the children in a language group?
<Patricia Yacobacci> I have worked with groups who have children aged 6 months to 6
<Anonymous3654> Dr. Y what would you do to encourage parents who are reluctant to
participate in a lang. group?
<Patricia Yacobacci> Usually, I have a general information meeting introducing the
language group concept. Then I ask parents to join the group. Some of the places I
have worked in have the parents pay a small sum.
<allison> so they are grouped by their child's age, or by the disorder/problem?
<Patricia Yacobacci> The grouping depends on the setting. Usually by children's age.
<Robin> How many parents/children are typically in a language group?
<Patricia Yacobacci> The typical numer is 4 to 5 family units.
<allison> are all members of the family encouraged to attend, ex: brothers and
<AdrienneFSU> do the children come?
<Patricia Yacobacci> The children do not come to the meetings, but I go to the homes
every two weeks and video the parents working with the children
<Patricia Yacobacci> Then we go over the tapes together. This I have been doing
<Patricia Yacobacci> I differ from the Hanen Progam in Canada - but the video use is
<AdrienneFSU> what's the Hanen program?
<AdrienneFSU> or how are you different?
<Patricia Yacobacci> The Hanen program was started around 1994 and focuses on
parent education with video.
<Patricia Yacobacci> The Hanen program is excellent and can be reached by
<Patricia Yacobacci> I differ in that I go into language education more deeply with
<allison> what exactly is language education, would that be for example giving the
parents tips about communicating with their child?
<allison> it sounds a lot like group therapy
<Patricia Yacobacci> Yes it is somewhat like group therapy, but the focus is on
communication. I do make referrals to social workers and others if necessary
<Patricia Yacobacci> We talk about the family as a system and the needs of all
members. If the system is out of "wack" then a referral is made.
<Patricia Yacobacci> The parents learn from other parents who have gone through the
program that it is not threatening and is helpful.
<Patricia Yacobacci> I talk a lot with the parents before they join and assure them that
we are a group with a mission and I do not report to the principal or director, etc.
<AdrienneFSU> is that a common concern?
<Patricia Yacobacci> The trust element is formost. When the first group is over in a
setting, the others usually join without hesitation.
<Patricia Yacobacci> The therapist (slp) must careful not to become a "psychologist"
<AdrienneFSU> providing educational support and guidance more than emotional
<Patricia Yacobacci> The communications within the group deal with the ways of
language development and how they can specifically work with their child.
<Patricia Yacobacci> I work with deaf and hard of hearing children and their parents
<allison> do you find that parents who have a deaf child, are willing to take the steps
necessary to learn sign language?
allison> I was doing some research and I read that many parents of deaf children, if
they are not deaf, are sometimes reluctant to learn sign language
<Patricia Yacobacci> Yes, if they understand the need for language development and
the resources their child will need.
<Patricia Yacobacci> Many can be resistent but the tone of the slp is crucial to the
<AdrienneFSU> ok, from the hearing impaired slant then, how do you go about
explaining something to parents that they don't want to hear?
<Patricia Yacobacci> I have dealt with parents who have been difficult. You explain,
explain, and explain using different techniques and the video is extremely helpful
when the parents see themselves and the communication.
<Patricia Yacobacci> Most parents don't realize until they see themselves on the tape
and engage in self evaluation.
<Patricia Yacobacci> The children enjoy the parents learning to play with them using
the language environment.
<AdrienneFSU> Dr. Y, how do you document progress/ justify continuing sessions?
<Patricia Yacobacci> Through session evaluation and final program evaluations.
<AdrienneFSU> is it primarily subjective then?
<Patricia Yacobacci> Yes, I do watch the productive language and help the parents
understand where the child is using Bloom and Lahey format.
<AdrienneFSU> what does productive language mean?
<Patricia Yacobacci> Productive language is the actual spoken language.
<Patricia Yacobacci> The language groups are essential to modifying
the language environment for the children.
<Patricia Yacobacci> The slp has the child maybe 2 or 3 times a week
and the parents have them the rest of the time!!
<Jody> How long do the parents typically continue coming to a group? Is
there a set time length for a group?
<Patricia Yacobacci> 6 to 8 sessions and 2 to 3 home visits.
<jbone> Dr. Y, I missed your session at ASHA. How can I get more detailed
information on language groups?
<Patricia Yacobacci> I can email you our presentation outline. Just email
me at email@example.com.
<Jody> Do you have an overall outline of the 6-8 sessions or do you go with
the dynamics of the group?
<Patricia Yacobacci> Many groups have wanted to continue and I am discussing that
with some organizations.
<Patricia Yacobacci> I am a Hanen certified SLP and I began using that
format. But with hearing impaired children the needs are different and I have
changed my schedule and discussion.
<Adrienne> Dr. Y do you see any difference with single parents/caregivers in this approach?
<Patricia Yacobacci> Yes and no ---- I see the single parent struggling
to come but many do make the effort!!!
<Patricia Yacobacci> I feel that I have to be accommodating to the single
parent time wise and meeting wise.
<Patricia Yacobacci> I like to meet during the evenings so that the
fathers can be involved also. This has been a great success!!!!
<Jody> Do you have preset times or do you determine a time after the
group comes together?
<Patricia Yacobacci> I have preset times because of my schedule - but
try to be flexible if possible!!!
<Robin> Have the fathers been as receptive as the mothers?
<Patricia Yacobacci> The fathers usually start out with skepticism
but come around about the fourth meeting. After we talk about
play and video tape them playing with their child.
<Patricia Yacobacci> Fathers have a difficult time with "play" to develop
language, but when they see the child come alive and use sound to
communicate - they love it!!!
<Robin> what are the typical language problems you see with the children?
<Patricia Yacobacci> with the hearing impaired - it is usually structural
development of the semantic meaning of their utterances or gestures.
With the language delayed child it is usually enhancing the language
and modeling for them.
<Adrienne> are some problems more conducive to group than others?
<Patricia Yacobacci> Yes, I think so -- when the children are the same
age and have differing communication abilities (hearing
impaired/autistic/ PDD) it is very difficult for some parents to deal with
the variation. However, the parents seem to bond ahd help each other
understand the difference.
<Adrienne> do you involve peer-based intervention?
<Patricia Yacobacci> I have!!! It has been successful and the children
(oop's I'm talking about siblings now) learn the reasons the
communcation environment must change to fit the needs of their brother
<Patricia Yacobacci> Back to peers ---- yes, some of the parents want to
get together for play groups and I have videoed them and we talked
about the results in session.
<Adrienne> do you find the clients get together outside of therapy?
<Patricia Yacobacci> Yes --- the support for each other is very strong!!
We professionals sometimes ignore this element.
<Adrienne> that's neat
<Patricia Yacobacci> Thanks -- I think so too.
<Robin> It is getting close to 10pm. I'd like to thank Dr. Yacobacci for your
insights about language groups.
<Patricia Yacobacci> You are welcome!!! I enjoyed the chat and if
anyone needs to contact me you can at firstname.lastname@example.org
<Robin> Thank you so much!!!!!!!!
<Patricia Yacobacci> goodnight