Building skills for people to make their own choice

Building choice making skills for people with  Autism, language & learning impairments

People with Autism  and language impairments will often choose the same thing and sometimes oppose change.

Giving a person with a disability, opportunities to make their own choices, creates independence and more choice and control over their own lives.

Hundreds of choices everyday

Think of all the choices you make in every day tasks, such as choosing a:

  • knife or spoon,
  • black or white sock
  • Cereal or toast
  • Orange juice or water
  • Blue pen or black
  • Walk or gym

The list is endless.  These simple activities are all opportunities for engagement, communication and building skills.

Missed opportunities

Write a list of all the choices you would make in a day, use the list as a guide of missed opportunities. Build choice making opportunities as part of your routine.

Create  plenty opportunities throughout the day for yes or no choices.

Write your list today!

Presuming you know what the person wants

It is easy to think you know what the persons wants therefore without knowing, you have made the choice for them.  Missed opportunity!

Choices is about individuality, don’t assume you know what someone wants.  The person may have chosen something one day but may not want the same thing the next day.

Teach the skill

Making a choice is a skill, teach the skill. Give people the power to make their own choices.

Start with only two choices and increase the choices as you go.

Begin with something you know the person would like and something they may not like.

If the person is non verbal, support them to point to what they want or give you want they want.

If the person has some echolalia, encourage them to repeat the name of the activity or object chosen.


Use actual objects so people can see what they are choosing from you.

Visuals (pictures) are a great resource to use to help someone make a choice. Picture Exchange Communication Systems are handy to have at home or in your Centre.

Use visual yes/no cards to support someone to confirm their choice.

choice making autism speech language

Text – write down two choices.

Use Choice Boards.

autism language food choice board

Look for non verbal cues

Just because someone has limited speech, does not mean they can’t make a choice for themselves.

  • Look for eye gazing
  • Get to know a persons different facial expressions
  • Body posture
  • pointing
  • smiling

Start making your list of daily choice making engagement activities today!

Till next time


Mum, Blogger, Founder See-n-Speak Visual Communication Aids

Alison Mooney

I am a mother first, Blogger and Founder of See-n-Speak Communication Picture Exchange resources for people with a Disability. Sharing our resources and knowledge successfully using picture exchange as a form of communication with our child.

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