object or part of object used to refer to a person, place, object,
provide a concrete means of supporting conversational interactions
and language development.
cup is used to mean "Snack time, go to the table"
diaper is used to mean " Lets change your diaper"
backpack is used to mean "Heres the bus. Time for
section of straw signals "Snack time"
cardboard toilet paper roll signals "Lets go to the
piece of chain from the swing signals "Its recess.
Go play outside"
whether the child has the physical ability to actively explore
and manipulate objects to determine whether object cues are
an appropriate communication support for this child.
object cues that the child can manipulate and that have a
close tactile relationship to their referents.
the use of miniatures since their relationships to referents
are visually based.
possible, choose small objects or parts of objects so the
communication system is more portable.
the intended message clearly on the object or display to clarify
the communication intent for all communication partners.
object cues should be displayed so that they are accessible
to the child and used consistently by communication partners,
(e.g., in a calendar box, on a communication board, in a binder
separated in categories, or as a landmark for the place to
which the object refers).
and handle objects with the child (see Mutual
Tactile Attention) and engage in nonverbal and verbal
conversations about activities that the objects represent.
For example, show the child the chain from the swing; touch
it together; act out swinging and invite the child to feel
your actions. Sign SWING tactilely. Notice the child's reactions
cues provide a concrete and static communication method that
may be easily understood by the child who needs support in understanding
abstract symbols, such as speech or sign language.
object cue makes relatively low demands on the childs
cognition, memory and representational skills. Initially, the
object cue can be the same object that is used in the actual
activity so the child will understand its meaning. The child
just needs to discriminate it from one or more other tangible
use of an object cue requires a simple motor response, such
as pointing, touching, picking up, showing, or looking at it
to make the message clear.
size of the object can be reduced over time to a small part
of the object to increase portability.
use of object cues is not a conventional communication method
so everyone who interacts with the child may not use them consistently
or in the same way.
use of whole objects may not be portable.
and complex messages cannot be communicated solely through the
use of object cues.
the appropriate object or part of an object to refer to a person,
activity, or item can be very challenging.
to Offer Objects
Determine the best way to offer an object to a particular child
and the child's preferred position for examining objects. Some
children will examine objects placed on a tray or on their laps.
Other children with physical disabilities may prefer to examine
objects placed on their chests while they are lying on their
an object by touching it to a body part (e.g., arm) that is
less sensitive than the child's palm. Watch for a response.
If needed, repeat the offer and accept a negative response (e.g.,
a push away). Offer something else. The rejected object can
be offered again later.
introduce a new object, hold it in your hand and place the back
of your hand under the child's palm. Slowly rotate your hand
with the object so the child will come into contact with the
object gradually. This way the child can choose whether to remove
his or her hand from the object, just touch it, explore it in
your hand, or pick it up.
introduce something with a large surface (e.g., a book with
textures or braille or a large object), put your hand on the
surface and encourage the child to place his or her hand on
top of yours. Slide your hand back gradually so that the child's
hand comes into contact with the surface. Move your hand gently
to explore the surface, thus guiding the child to do the same.
This way the child is learning through tactile
modeling and can choose the amount and length of contact
he or she has with the surface.
objects that are interesting for the child to explore tactilely
(e.g., contains discrepant textures or shapes, has moving parts
that can be manipulated, provides some feedback based on the
Do not force a child to take an object or overuse hand-over-hand
manipulation. This may lead to prompt dependency. Continuous
physical manipulation communicates that "you need my help" and
"I can make you do this."
Cues represents a synthesis of information from Project
SALUTEs focus groups, National Advisory Committee, staff
activities, and a review of relevant literature such as the
Here for Examples