Childen with Communication and Development Difficulties

Launch of HSE-funded report on a programme for parents of children
with communication and developmental difficulties

– A study of parents’ and professionals’ experiences of childhood
interventions within a Marte Meo framework.

Therapies and services for families, experiencing developmental and
communication difficulties, need to be appropriately resourced,
according to a report launched today.

The report was carried out by Dr Jean Clarke, Dr Mel Duffy and Yvonne
Corcoran from Dublin City University’s School of Nursing. Ms Colette
O’Donovan, Marte Meo programme HSE, was professional consultant to the
research team.

Marte Meo is a video-based programme that provides concrete and
practical information to parents and carers on supporting the social,
emotional and communication development of children, adolescents, and
adults. It offers support and advice for parents of children who are
experiencing developmental delay, behavioural difficulties, have a
diagnosis of autism, aspergers, ADHD, or because of other social or
family problems.

The research studied the experiences of families who participated in
the Marte Meo programme, and therapists who provided the programme.
It concluded that parents’ voices need to be heard in regard to their
understanding of their child when they first seek health care, and
also parents’ experience of applying the Marte Meo learning was a
changing process where their confidence grew over the time of the
therapy and subsequent to it. Parents rediscovered their ability to
parent their child beyond her/his diagnosis or behaviour problem and
to be comfortable as an ‘OK Mammy or Daddy.’ Through the provision of
the Marte Meo programme, family support services have a model of best
practice of how to provide empowering supportive family interventions.

Speaking at the launch, Dr Jean Clarke said, “The Marte Meo programme
was developed to enhance communications skills in daily interaction
moments, either within families or within the care setting, with an
emphasis on prevention, early intervention and treatment.
Approximately 180 families participate in the Marte Meo programme in
any given year. There are 118 trained Marte Meo therapists in the
country; 700 health care professionals have completed the Marte Meo
communication skills training. The method has proved particularly
useful for parents, including foster- and adoptive parents, equipping
them with the knowledge and skills to support the emotional,
intellectual and social development of their children. It is
effective in facilitating attachment between children and their
parents, while at the same time equipping parents to be more confident
in their parenting skills.”

In his address at the launch Aidan Waterstone, Childcare and Family
Specialist, HSE said “the launch of this Report into the experiences
of families and therapists who participated in the Marte Meo programme
is both timely and important. Children and Family Services in the HSE
are involved in a process of change and development with a renewed
emphasis on supporting children and families. This research has
demonstrated the value and importance of the Marte Meo programme as a
model of best practice.”

The Marte Meo Training Centre, which is funded by the HSE, provides
training for health professionals from different disciplines within
the HSE and external organisations. The training is particularly
useful for community child care workers, social workers, public health
nurses, nurses in intellectual disability, playschool leaders, speech
and language therapists, residential child care providers, behaviour
specialists and also for staff caring for older persons.

Information on the therapeutic treatment provided by Marte Meo
therapists should be more widely available. Marte Meo communication
skills training needs to be included as part of the programme of
training for all health care professionals.