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Communication Boards

(from NHS Foundation Trust, Lanshire and South Cumbria)

What are they? A communication board is a picture symbol board that can be used to support an interaction around an activity. The pictures (words) on the board will enable a child and the adult supporting them to make comments, requests or give a direction to each other.

Who are they for? Children or young people who struggle to communicate using speech and who will benefit from a picture support system to help them get their message across.  Children that have good picture recognition and can point to a picture or sequence of pictures to communicate a message.


How would you use them? Picture communication boards have pictures on them that link to language we use in a fun game or activity.  You can use the board to create simple messages so point to a picture to say that word or point to 2 or more pictures to say a simple phrase or sentence e.g. “I want + red + car”  The pictures on a board will help your child communication a range of messages in a fun activity so make a request, ask for a turn, comment “car crash”.  The symbols boards can vary in the number of pictures and the amount of core words on them. Core words are words we routinely use in our sentences to build messages e.g. /I, you, want, go, like/. Your child might start with basic language boards with 9 or 12 cells and as their use and understanding of pictures develops they may benefit from more language (core words) on a board, so they can say more. I want …. car Red + car (comment)


Top Tips  

  1. Introduce the board when you are playing with the toy or activity

  2. Respond to all your child’s attempts to communicate. They may hold up the car to show you and you can point to the picture to comment “it’s a car”. 

  3. Show and model to your child how to use the picture on board to talk do this by pointing to the pictures as you play “my turn” “go!” send car down ramp….

  4.  Do lots of repetition of communication messages using pictures

  5.  If your child points to a picture then say the word or phrase 

  6. Expand on their message showing them how to link pictures to build their message e.g. child points at car picture, you can respond by linking up two pictures to make a request [I want + car] or make a comment [it’s a red car] 

  7. Fix any errors so if they combine two words using pictures but wrong way round “car red,” you can model back the correct way to link the pictures “yes red car.”

  8.  Encourage the student to use pictures to talk by pausing in an activity hold car at top of ramp wait to see if your child responds by pointing to /Go!/ or withhold all the cars see if your child points at picture to request [I want car] 

Free Printable Boards

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