In Practice - Scotland
The 'Before Words Project' has been running successfully in Moray Since October 2009. In partnership with health practitioners we give each of the four resources to all families in Moray at appropriate stages of their child's development - and in the past eighteen months we have been developing a dedicated visit programme that introduces Before Words to parents between four and six weeks after the birth of their baby. The nursery nurse raises the parents awareness with four key messages from Before Words and information about their importance:
"Hold me and talk to me -
it makes me feel safe.
(When we look at each other
I talk back to you)."
"Quiet time -
I need quiet time every day."
"Pause and wait -
I need time to talk back."
"Make your talking tuneful
and I will listen."
Parents are encouraged to refer to their copy of Before Words to support their baby's developing communication, they then receive a follow-up visit when the baby is between four and six months old.
We evaluate the development of each baby's interaction skills and parents tell us about their experience of the visit and the resource. We are in the early stages of analysing this data, which so far tells us that:
95% of parents have found the visit and the resource useful.
36% of parents did not know about "Quiet time" and "Pause and wait" - two of the four
Most parents, they told us on the second visit, had established regular "Quiet time" every day, when they reported sharing books, singing songs and interacting with their baby. Parents like the simplicity and look of the resource; they feel informed and reassured; their awareness has increased - apparent from their detailed observations; fathers feel included and are following the advice; the age/stage format is particularly useful - parents like to anticipate the next stage of development.
Coupled with dedicated visits by a health professional, Before Words is a powerful universal, preventative, early intervention. It gives parents new information, support and early identification where there might be concerns. Due to its universal nature it does not stigmatise when it is used as a framework for timely early intervention. Other health authorities in Scotland are following in our footsteps.
For more information about the project or the ongoing evaluation please contact:
Speech and Language Therapist. firstname.lastname@example.org