Reciprocal Communication
   Making Requests
   Making Choices

More Ideas

How to Use

In order for communication to take place, a person needs to understand his environmentand know what is expected of him. It can be very frustrating to not know what is happening or what to do. Frustration can breed inappropriate behavior. Information which helps structure tasks and explain expectations can be presented visually using picture cards. Used singly or grouped in a sequence, these picture cards help to teach skills and reduce anxiety, resulting in more competent and independent behavior.

For people with attentional and organizational difficulties, pictures can be used as cues for completing a sequence of tasks. The same strategies are useful with older children and adults - just replace pictures with written descriptions.

Methods of using pictures include schedules to organize activities, strips to tell a story, and individual cards exchanged with another person as a form of visual talking. On our web site, we have provided a variety of printable picture cards to create your own visual communication tools. The examples given are far from exhaustive, but are an attempt to share successful ideas with parents and teachers. Any tool will be most successful if it makes a concrete connection to the person based on his strengths, needs, and level of development.

learning in steps
We usually learn in steps which start simply and then get more abstract. The ability to understand different levels of abstraction will vary from person to person.

Most of us learn about objects and actions using the following common levels of abstraction:

  • actual objects and actions
  • photographs of objects and actions
  • black and white line drawings of objects and actions
  • written words which describe objects and actions
line drawing

For example, consider how someone with special needs might learn to request a drink: Starting with a picture to make a request for a real object can be too abstract. Initially, a person might need a real cup to request juice. You can teach that a picture of a cup and a real cup represent the same thing by first using the real cup with the picture, and then transitioning to just using the picture. Some learners may always prefer the real object. The goal is simply to provide whatever makes the connection for an individual. If you see confusion or frustration in the learner's attempts to communicate, decrease the level of abstraction

Photography tips: When taking photographs to use for communication, it is helpful to make the photograph as simple as possible. Include only one object in the picture or make the background blank. Some individuals have difficulty generalizing, so it may also be helpful to avoid including details such as the title of the book or video, or the labels on a food or drink item.

View2DoNeed more Picture Cards?
View2Do is an online program that lets you create customized teaching aids for visual learners.

Learn more about View2do!