Dr. James D. MacDonald's Website
Helping Parents Help Children. Programs for Parents, Therapists & Educators
Overview of Communicating Partners
The Communicating Partners Center is guided by one major belief: that parents are in the best position to make sure their child develops social and communicative skills to their potential.
Dr. MacDonald developed this web site with five missions in mind:
- To provide parents with information and practical tools for taking a more active role in helping their child socialize and communicate
- To discuss findings from a 27 year clinical research program fostering parent child communication from infancy to adolescence
- To show how absolutely essential early parent child play relationships are, especially for children who do not easily socialize and communicate
- To share many successful stories of children with delays such as Autism, Down Syndrome, Attention disorders, and other Late Talking Children
- To provide practical problem solving dialogs that address frequently asked questions about learning to talk
This mission is a direct response to several current problems in society:
- TOO LITTLE PLAY. MANY CHILDREN HAVE LITTLE IF ANY FREQUENT AND PLAYFUL RELATIONSHIPS WITH THEIR PARENTS OR OTHER ADULTS. Too many children are virtually raising themselves with little direct contact with adults showing them how to communicate and socialize.
- TOO LITTLE PARENT EDUCATION. Few parents have access to education about how to communicate with children and how to help them. Parents are expected to know many of the important details of child development that only a few highly trained professionals have access to. When children develop social and communication problems, there are extremely few professionals available with expertise about early communication development. And yet the information does exist and is not beyond parents' understanding; just beyond practical access in easy to use forms. Communicating Partners is a new resource for parents to learn how to help their children communicate and develop positive relationships.
- A STRIKING INCREASE IN LATE TALKING CHILDREN. An increasing number of children are being identified with serious communication disorders that greatly interfere with their social and educational development. In many communities, as many as 20 percent of children entering school have much less than age appropriate speech, language and communication skills. Some are diagnosed with developmental disabilities such as Autism, Down Syndrome, mental retardation, attention disorders, Cerebral palsy, hearing impairments and other disabilities. However, many of appear to have age appropriate intelligence and adaptive behaviors, but clearly show serious delays in communicating and having social relationships. These children seem to be learning many things from their play and the increasingly available media such as television, and computers, but they seem importantly delayed in their ability to communicate their knowledge in socially appropriate ways. Children seem increasingly less able to engage in productive and friendly conversations. Many are accumulating considerable knowledge but are unable to make much use of the knowledge because they seem seriously impaired in the communicative skills that make for healthy relationships
- TOO FEW TRAINED PROFESSIONALS. Very few professionals ( teachers, therapists, and day care providers ) have been trained to work with non-talking children and the ones who are so training are extremely overloaded in their work. This web site is designed to help professionals work with parents and late talking children in ways that teach the child to be communicative in life as well as school. A major goal of Communicating Partners is to provide therapists and teachers with practical tools to actively include parents and late talking children in their services.
- PARENTS ARE THE ANSWER. Regardless of the number of professionals, children will learn to communicate best in their home lives. Parents have the greatest opportunity to teach their children how to communicate and yet there are very few resources available to parents for this purpose, This web site provides tested resources for building strong social relationships with children with delays.