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Autism and vocabulary building activities

In a previous post we have talked about the importance of planning activities that encourage communication. For more information, see here.

Because of the difficulty Flora and children with ASC have in communicating and interacting with others, all of our activities are planned in a way that gives them the opportunity to ask for something from us or communicate a need.

It is important, however, to also plan activities that focus on vocabulary building in order for students to learn to describe an object or an action.

This week, Flora is learning to describe an object based on its colour as well as what she can do with it.

To motivate her to participate in the activity it is important to make the activity as engaging as possible. And what could be more fun than playing with balloons.

1. Choosing new vocabulary

When we are choosing the new vocabulary we want to teach our students, it is important to take into account the student's cognitive level. This week, Flora is learning about colours, specifically green, red and blue, as well as the actions of blow, let go, play and pop.

As we have mentioned before, it is important to limit the number of new words to avoid feelings of discomfort or failure. We may need to reduce the choice of colours as well as actions.

2. Objects - symbols

As in any activity, it is important to have the symbols ready matching with the new vocabulary, as they help to understand the concepts and can be used as a communication tool. For example, when the student is asked what colour the balloon is, they need to show the matching symbol.

3. Demonstrate the activity.

It is important for the adult to show the activity first so that the student can understand and anticipate what will follow.

The adult shows the student the balloons of different colours and matches each balloon with the colour. They then choose a balloon, blow it and demonstrates the different actions (pop, play, let go)

4. Student's turn

After showing the activity, it is the student's turn.

In this case, we show the student the balloons and ask them which colour they want. After they have chosen the colour, we tell the student that we are going to blow up the balloon. Then the student chooses what they would like to do with the balloon.

More information about the activity and the symbols can be found here.

5. Generalisation of knowledge

It is important throughout the day to provide opportunities for students to use the new vocabulary in different contexts. For example, asking what colour different objects in the room are, e.g. What colour is the jacket, and naming matching actions, e.g. Let’s blow bubbles.

Each child has different needs to which we need to differentiate the activity. If you are interested in planning a similar activity, you can contact us at so that we can share ideas and tips for the best possible outcome.


We will share more tips and activities in the future, so keep visiting us.

We are looking forward to hearing your views and experiences.

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