Every Student

EXS1 - Choice Making & Requesting - Concrete Symbolic

Teaching Strategies

Distractors »
Provide opportunities for choice »
Questioning »
Motivators »
Incidental teaching »
Strategic pausing »
Prompting »
Blocking access »
Explicit teaching »


Teaching Opportunities

Morning circle
Literacy sessions
Community access
Music sessions
Toy play
Leisure time
Sensory play
Meal times


Teaching Resources

Interactive apps, software and websites
Variety of texts
Choice board
Emotion visuals
Favoured toys
Non-preferred items
Interactive touch screen devices


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

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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 a choice

Makes request with object in view
Makes known a need by giving a symbol or object in the here or now
Matches and selects representations of feelings    

Makes a choice

Present the student with a preferred object and a non-preferred object and block access by holding them out of reach. Encourage the student to choose an item to play with by saying, “SN, choose”. Observe the student for any sign of preference such as eye gaze, reaching, leaning toward or vocalising. Immediately hand the object to the student and say, “SN wants …. Good choosing!”


Create visual choice boards for student use during classroom or community based activities such as choosing a song or ordering a meal. There are a variety of communication apps that allow the creation of digital choice boards for use on interactive touch screen devices such as Choice Board Creator, Talkboard, Choice Board and Custom Boards Premium.



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).


Makes request with object in view

Place a preferred object in view but out of reach of the student. Show the student the corresponding PCS and name it for them. Place the corresponding PCS within the student’s reach. Use the least amount of support required to encourage the student to reach for, pick up and give the PCS to a communication partner. When the student gives the PCS to the communication partner they immediately respond by giving the student the preferred object and saying, “SN wants….., Good asking!” This works best when the person providing support to the student is not the communication partner (Bondy & Frost, 2002, in NSW Board of Studies, 2012, p. 78). Further information can be found at the following link: English K–6 Support Materials for Students with Special Education Needs 2011: Communication, published by the NSW Board of Studies.


Makes known a need by giving a symbol or object in the here and now

Assist a student to exchange an object or PCS to meet a need. For example, if a student bangs the table to indicate their need to eat, interrupt this behaviour. Prompt the student to hand their lunchbox or PCS to a communication partner using the least amount of support required. As soon as the exchange has occurred, allow access to the food.


Matches and selects representations of feelings

Present students with pictures of faces representing feelings such as happy and sad. Ask the student to match the faces to sample and repeatedly draw the students' attention to the characteristics displayed on each face e.g. a smile on happy face, tears on the sad face. Once the pictures are matched, reinforce the learning by asking, “SN, give me the …. face” until all of the pictures have been given to the teacher.


Apps such as VolaFriends, Smarty Pants, Autism Xpress and Feelings can be used to support students to learn how to match and select representations of 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


Custom Boards - Premium
Inclusive Smarty Pants