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Early Intervention Speech Therapy

Communication Boards in the Classroom

Published February 21, 2012 9:30 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling

Working with young children with verbal apraxia in a preschool classroom poses many challenges. However, as we all know, there are also numerous opportunities for creative problem solving, especially with various technology and software programs at our fingertips. Today I would like to share a technique that has proven to be quite successful in the classroom setting. I call it our "Communication Board," which I created using BoardmakerĀ® pictures.

Here is an example of one of the most recent boards:

The Symbols

As you can see from the picture, the very first symbol (if you're reading from left to right starting at the top) is of a small child with the word "I" above it. I did this purposefully to help with language acquisition, sentence structure development and even pre-literacy skills. Now when the children are using it, they can successfully begin to develop familiar and empowering phrases of "I want ____" or "I do not want ____." 

When choosing the symbols for the board I picked concepts that mirrored the curriculum and routine of the classrooms. For example, at the bottom there are three emotion pictures - happy, sad and angry - which have been the recent focus of the classroom teacher's social stories. I gave those three pictures a blue background to help them to stand out from the others visually.

How Does It Work?

To help the children in the classroom understand how to use the board efficiently, I taught group lessons to ALL the students in the room, even to the well-spoken, effective communicators. The thought behind this was that if one of the children with apraxia is trying to tell one of the "well-spoken" children "It's my turn" by pointing to the picture, it's important that that other child knows what that picture means!

During my lesson with them, we identified what all of the picture symbols are AND we talked about how to use them. It was fascinating to me how ALL the children enjoyed learning about the board and even our "good talkers" wanted to use it!

In addition to talking to the children about the board, I also made several color copies, laminated them and strategically placed them around the classroom so that all children could access them. Additionally, I gave individual boards to a select few children who are unable to express themselves verbally so that they will always have a way to communicate.

Lastly, I made additional copies for parents of children with verbal apraxia on my caseload and sent them home with a note explaining what we are doing and how to use it.

The Response...

...has been tremendous! Parents are excited for an additional tool to use at home and are happy that we are using it in school. We have seen behavior issues diminish as the children have a quick and functional way to get their point understood.

And last but definitely not least, we have seen an increase in effective communication within the classroom. The boards are socially accepted and encouraged by all, so all the children gladly use them. They are listening to each other more and it has brought positive attention to the power of words with the help of pictures!


Last week I wrote a post about using communication boards in a preschool classroom. This week I wanted

February 28, 2012 9:38 AM

Picture Card Communication

I create and make personalized/individualized visual resources and educational materials for people affected by Autism and / or other disabilities where communication is affected and their families, teachers, therapists, care givers, etc.

These products are good for children who are "visual learners".

I am a mother of a 27 year old son with autism.

Eric was and still is a "visual learner".

You can see an article with pictures of Eric (now 27 years old) and some of the

pictures he has done in the CELEBRATE section of:

Link to article with pictures:

Because of the above and for the love of Eric and wanting to help other families,

I created my business  

Picture Card Communication


If you are interested and give me your email address I could email you with lots of visual materials that I have created for children with autism ?? ___ Marion ___ Email:

Marion Pusey, Autism and Special needs - Visual Resource Provider, Picture Card Communication February 21, 2012 1:52 PM
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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About this Blog

    Stephanie Bruno Dowling, M.S. CCC-SLP
    Occupation: Speech-Language Pathologist
    Setting: Early Intervention in Delaware County, PA
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