Picture Prompting

Picture Prompting

By: Kerry Tanis

“How many times do I have to tell you to…? Have you ever said that? Do you have any children that have great difficulty following even routine verbal directions? Sometimes it isn’t because they are being stubborn, but it may be that they need extra time to auditorily process what you are asking them to do. Using a picture prompt can greatly increase the child’s level of success in following through with your directions, even the first time.

I have used a ring of 2”x 2” pictures a number of times with various children. These pictures, as you can see in the well-used ones in the pictures below, are pictures of routine directions. “Sit”, “Line up”, “Sit on the floor”, “Go to the table”, “Walk”, ”Quiet”, “Wait”, and so forth. Each person tailor makes it to include whatever directions he wants. If you have the program Board Maker, you can make your pictures in that. If you do not have it, then you can use Google images. It is amazing what you can find there. If you put in searches such as “child sitting in chair” or “child getting into the car”, you will typically find a picture that will suit your purposes. Copy and paste the pictures to a Word document, adjusting them to the same size–2” x 2” works real well to fit in your pocket or purse. Print them off, cut them out, and glue onto cardstock. Cut them out once again, and then laminate. Once laminated, punch a hole in the upper left corner of each one and attach a ring through them. Probably 10 per ring is the maximum amount. You can always have two different sets of pictures if you need. If you put too many on one ring, then they are too hard to find the moment you need it. Believe me, I know! J

How do you use them? Well, simply show the child the desired picture as you pair it with your words. You want them to sit down? Show them the picture of the child sitting in the chair as you say, “Time to sit.” Often the fewer words you say, the better the response. As you are walking down the hall and need to stop, or are waiting in a doctor’s office, show the child the picture of “wait” as you say “We’re waiting”. If you want him to go to the table, show him the picture of the table as you say, “Go to the table”.

While this may seem like too simplistic a solution, I have seen great results through the last few years with my students. (I do not use it for everyone, just for those who are struggling.) It is amazing the difference from asking them over and over to do something versus asking them paired with the pictures. Often I do get a first time response, and at worst a second time response. So, give it a try! You too might be amazed!

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