Family-Centered Practice

Audiologists and SLPs recognize the essential role that families play in all aspects of service, from assessment through treatment, and the role that families and individuals play as key decision makers, recognized for their knowledge and skills. Families are considered from a lifespan perspective and may include parents, guardians, siblings, spouses and caregivers.

Family-centered practice includes

  • learning about the family system and developing contextualized assessments and interventions that respect the family system and preferences (Hecimovic, Powell, & Christensen, 1999; Moes & Frea, 2000);
  • careful attention to family priorities and concerns in planning interventions (e.g., Marshall & Mirenda, 2002);
  • developing meaningful learning opportunities, providing information, teaching strategies, and offering feedback to families;
  • teaching families interaction skills to support and manage behavior and the development of communication and language;
  • recognizing that family and individual beliefs and values will vary based on culture, background, personal preferences, and individual variability;
  • recognizing that resource availability may vary over time and due to economic factors;
  • placing a high value on seeking and respecting family views;
  • individualizing services to the needs and desires of the family and involving families in decision-making;
  • recognizing the transactional nature of the disorder when evaluating family interactions and relationships;
  • recognizing that family systems are dynamic rather than static, with family interactions and needs changing over time;
  • engaging the family and using familiar items in various aspects of the evaluation and therapy sessions;
  • suspending judgment and building rapport with the family about their needs and interests.


Hecimovic, A., Powell, T. H., & Christensen, L. (1999). Supporting families in meeting their needs. In D. B. Zager (Ed.), Autism: Identification, education, and treatment (2nd ed., pp. 261–299). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Marshall, J. K., & Mirenda, P. (2002). Parent-professional collaboration for positive behavior support in the home. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 17, 216–228.

Moes, D. R., & Frea, W. D. (2000). Using family context to inform intervention planning for the treatment of a child with autism. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 2, 40–46.

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