Every Student

EXS1 - Choice Making & Requesting - Abstract and Verbal Symbolic

Teaching Strategies

Provide opportunities for choice »
Sabotage »
Motivators »
Incidental teaching »
Prompting »
Blocking access »
Explicit teaching »


Teaching Opportunities

Morning circle
Community access
KLA sessions
Leisure time
Meal times


Teaching Resources

Storage boxes
Food items
Favoured items
Interactive apps, software and websites
Interactive touch screen devices
Interactive whiteboard
Communication folder


Levels Of Support

Full Physical Assistance (FP) »
Partial Physical Assistance (PP) »
Modelled Response (M) »
Gesture/Sign (G/S) »
Verbal (V) »
Independent (I) »


Programming Proforma

Download Program Proforma »


Assessment Strategies

Peer and self assessment»


Assessment Record

Download Assessment Record »
Syllabus Outcomes and Content
Syllabus Outcomes

Early Stage 1 Outcomes (2012)

ENe-1A A student recognises different methods of communication

ENE-4A A student demonstrates developing skills and strategies to read, view and comprehend short, predictable texts on familiar topics in different media and technologies

ENe-6B A student recognises that there are different kinds of spoken texts with specific language features and shows an emerging awareness of some purposes for spoken language

ENe-7B A student recognises some different purposes for writing and that own texts differ in various ways

ENe-8B A student demonstrates emerging skills and knowledge of texts to read and view, and shows developing awareness of purpose, audience and subject matter

ENe-11D A student responds to and composes simple texts about familiar aspects of the world and their own experiences


Life Skills 7-10 Outcomes (2012)

ENLS-2A A student communicates for a variety of purposes, audiences and contexts

A student views and responds to a range of visual texts, media and  multimedia

ENLS-5A A student recognises and uses visual texts media and multimedia for a variety of purposes, audiences and contexts

A student writes short texts foreveryday purposes

A student explores how the use of language affects personal roles and relationships with others

A student responds to and composes texts that explore personal, social and world issues

A student uses individual and collaborative skills in the learning process


HSC Life Skills 11-12 Outcomes (2007)

HSC LS1.1 Gives attention to another person, an object or an event in their environment

HSC LS1.3 Makes requests to satisfy needs and wants and to obtain services or assistance

HSC LS1.4 Lets others know that they approve or disapprove of actions and accept or reject objects, services or assistance appropriately

HSC LS1.5 Makes choices and expresses preferences, emotions and feelings

HSC LS1.6 Gives information, comments, asks questions spontaneously or on request

HSC LS2.2 Expresses agreement or disagreement and expresses pleasure or disappointment

HSC LS2.4 Answers questions and gives explanations

HSC LS2.7 Makes requests for services, information or assistance

HSC LS6.1 Recognises familiar objects and images when presented in a range of formats so as to make choices and communicate needs

Syllabus Content

Early Stage 1 (ENe) Content 


-compose texts to communicate feelings, needs, opinions and ideas 6B

-make simple requests using appropriate word order 6B

-understand that language can be used to explore ways of expressing needs, likes and dislikes 6B

-understand that readers/viewers may have varied and individual responses to a text 8B

-share responses to aspects of a text that relate to their own life 11D

Life Skills (ENLS) Content 


-use non-verbal indicators to communicate for a variety of purposes such as to request and reject 2A

-indicate a preference 2A

-recognise a variety of ways people communicate with each other 2A

-recognise the role and purpose of non-verbal indicators in communication 2A

-use visual texts to communicate with a variety of audiences 5A

-recognise the power of language to communicate feelings 14D


HSC Life Skills (LS) Content 


-gesture to indicate need or preference for food, drink, physical assistance or to obtain a service in a range of situations 1.3

-vocalise to indicate need or preference for food, drink, change of clothing or other physical assistance in a range of situations and with both known and unknown people 1.3

-use communication devices or systems to indicate needs or preferences 1.3

-request service, information or assistance using one word 2.7

-request service, information or assistance using known phrase 2.7

-request service, information or assistance using a complete sentence with known people in a range of situations 2.7

English Learning Continuum Indicators

Makes an intentional choice

Makes a request with support

Identifies feelings

Makes an intentional choice

At meal times provide a student with an array of photos/PCS representing items from their lunchbox. Ask the student to select the photo/PCS that indicates their choice and if possible, name it using speech. Offer the student their lunchbox and use the least amount of support required for them to take the corresponding item. Block access to non-corresponding items in the lunchbox. VOCAs or interactive touch screen devices can be used to support speech if required.


An array of PCS/photos could be used to support students to choose and purchase items in the community for programs such as shopping, eating out and leisure activities.


Makes a request with support

Provide opportunities for students to make requests by creating the need to communicate. For example:


  • Lock cupboard doors and place PCS on the outside for students to take off and exchange for the item. Alternatively place the PCS on their desk or in a personal communication folder.
  • Put food items in containers with tight lids and/or on high shelves so students need to verbalise a request or exchange a PCS or word card for something they want.
  • Take control over activities – only let students have a toy for a certain amount of time before taking it for your turn to make the student request another turn.
  • Place motivators on a high shelf in view, but unreachable.
  • Place favoured items in a locked box with the corresponding symbol on top that the student can take off and exchange with you.
  • Stop co-operating. If you are playing a repetitive game such as pushing a swing, stop doing so to force students to request ‘more’.
  • Make deliberate mistakes to create an opportunity for a student to request what they want such as giving work with no pencil, poppers without a straw or providing a lunchbox with only PCS inside. 


Commercially available programs such as PECS ™ can be used to explicitly teach choice making and requesting. It is important to ensure correct use of the PECS™ method (2002, Frost & Bondy).


Identifies feelings

Explicitly teach a range of common feelings and their associated facial expressions. Ask students to make specific facial expressions and take photos as a visual representation of each feeling. Use the photos to make a digital story about feelings. Watch the digital story on a daily basis and ask students to join in by making the expression on each page.


Apps such as Inclusive Smarty Pants and ABA Flashcards Emotions can be used to support students to recognise visual representations of common feelings.




Key Assessment Points



  • The level of prompting required for the student to complete a task should always be recorded.Observation could occur throughout the school day in a variety of activities or during a structured assessment task. This could be captured on video or in photos and recorded in skill checklists/rubrics for analysis.
  • Consultation with outside agencies and therapists such as speech therapists may be able to provide additional assessment information.
  • Informal testing could be used to assess student responses to specific symbols.



Suggested Apps


Inclusive Smarty Pants
ABA Flashcards & Games - Emotions
Emotions and Feelings Social Story
Expressions for Autism