Conversation Cards


For a student with autism, conversations are hard. For a student with autism who uses an AAC device, they are even harder. For that reason, I created a deck of twenty conversation cards. I hope that this is the first of several decks that I will create.

The free download is here. They are printable and the fronts and backs of the cards print separately. I recommend mounting the fronts on card stock, cutting them out, and then applying the backs separately. They don’t match up correctly if you try glue the pages back-to-back. I laminated mine and that works well!

The cards are divided into different categories: giving compliments, what questions, where questions, when questions, and who questions. The ‘scripts’ are color coded to indicate when it is the other person’s turn to speak. Each card has two sides.

communication cards 1

Communicator A follows the green text. Communicator B uses the red text to respond. He/she may choose one of the options on the card to respond or come up with his/her own answer.

communication cards 2

Communicator A responds to B’s after school plans with a comment. No text is presented with the picture choices to avoid echolalic responses.

These cards are good practice for students who struggle with reciprocal conversation. I introduce them 1:1 and then use them at times when typical students would engage in conversations (i.e. eating a meal in the community, leisure times, etc.).

They are ideal for low-level readers and students who use AAC with a core vocabulary. When students need to choose an answer, picture supports are provided without text so students must practice word retrieval and are less likely to just read or type out the first or last choice.

communication cards 3

Communicator A (green) asks Communicator B (red) about his favorite place to eat.

communication cards 4

Here, communicator A will need to choose their response based on B’s opinion.

The free download is a PDF file. If you would prefer to be able to edit the file and you have access to BoardMaker software, leave a comment and I’ll send you the project file!

An idea that I have seen but haven’t tried is to have a conversation box. You can place it in the middle of the table during snack or lunch and have students pick a card to talk with a classmate. After he is done, he can put the card in the slot in the box!

conversation box

Happy conversing!




Students with significant needs require that the teacher focus on functional life skills, communication, and self-advocacy. In order to practice these skills as authentically as possible, the teacher will occasionally have to create stressful situations that require student action to correct.

Listen all of y’all it’s a SABOTAGE!!!

-Beastie Boys (duh.)

Today’s sabotage is brought to you by those people who insist that sitting at work will kill you.

While students were out sensory-breaking, bathroom-ing, and otherwise occupied, I collected the classroom chairs and put them in a storage closet. When students returned, there were mixed reactions. Some seemed not to notice any difference. Others seemed amused. Still others started looking around the room as if they were searching for the missing furniture.

Not one student commented that the chairs were gone.

Not one student asked for a chair.

The rest of the day was simultaneously hilarious and sad. It was funny to watch the students try their best to follow their schedules without chairs to sit in.

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It was sad that the students were not able to find the words to ask for the object when it was out of sight.

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The students were without their chairs for five hours of the school day yesterday.

photo 1

This morning, the chairs were still gone but I primed the language by projecting several pictures (including chair) with labels on the SmartBoard. With varying amounts of prompting, all students finally asked for their chairs within the first three hours of school.

This was eye-opening for me. All students had the capacity to ask for their chair. The vocabulary was in their devices if they used one and all students had demonstrated the knowledge of the vocabulary. All students had even asked for their chairs if someone else was using it. As soon as the chairs were out of sight, however, it was a different ball game.

These two days have reminded me that I need to be sabotaging more often in order to stimulate functional communication and provide students an opportunity to advocate for what they need. Typical adults and caregivers throughout their lives should not have to be in the business of mind-reading!

One Lovely Blog Award 5_3_15



One Lovely Blog Award

The rules for accepting the award are:

1. Thank and link back to the person who nominated you.

Thanks to Liz, an SLP at Say What? for the nomination.

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

  1. I am super competitive, some might say to a fault. I don’t even let my students win.
  2. I love animals and have two pets: a rotty mix named Skyla and a tuxedo cat named Dixie.
  3. I would like to write a book someday–getting started is the hardest part!
  4. I am teaching myself to play guitar and occasionally cover songs for my students.
  5. I love the Chicago Blackhawks but have never been to a game!
  6. Staying active and writing keep me grounded.
  7. I love to cook but I can’t bake without starting a fire.

3. Nominate 15 other bloggers and comment on their blogs (usually on their about page or contact directly if necessary) to let them know.

I haven’t been in the blogging ‘scene’ (is that cool to say?) long enough to have 15 blogs to share, but I will share a few favorites and pass more nominations along as I expand my reading list! Most of these blogs are out of my league, but they are my favorites to follow!

  1. : This is a hilarious blog from Jenny Lawson, the author of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. She is neurotic, lovable, anxious, and just generally delightful in every way.
  2. This is an honest and reflective blog from a teacher who truly loves her job and takes it seriously. She attempts to educate her students to be authentic societal contributors.
  3. Jeffrey Hartman blogs about special education and the law. He has experience with multiple roles at the IEP table.
  4. Amy Laurent is a consultant for students with autism spectrum disorder. She provides advice, videos, and printable behavioral supports.
  5. The author refers to herself as ‘the depressed Christian teacher.’ This blog contains the honest reflections of a young woman struggling with life in a small town, a class of students with behavioral challenges, and mental illness.
  6. Cheryl runs this blog and reflects on her life as an occupational therapist!