Boardmaker - what is it and will it work for my child?

Boardmaker pictures are one type of visual support that can be used with children with autism. Once you have decided to use visual supports with your child, you need to work out what type of pictures are going to be most effective for your individual child.

Boardmaker provides line drawings which are fairly abstract. If your child is young (2 or 3 years old) and you are just starting to introduce visual supports, they might find the line drawings difficult to understand.

When you introduce visual supports to your child, you want them to get immediate benefit and to experience success, so photographs might be a better place to start.

Even if you are using photographs for most of your visual supports, there will be some abstract concepts such as "more", "finish", "wait", or "help", that it is hard to take a photo of, so in these instances line drawings can be really useful.

For the older children or those that have been using visual supports for a while, line drawings can be used for all of their visual supports.

Boardmaker has a library of images. You can search the library to find the image you are looking for. You can also combine 2 images into 1 to create a symbol that you cannot find in the library. You then create a communication board. You can specify how many images you want on the board and the size you want them to be. You will need a colour printer to print the boards in colour. You can then cut up the boards as you need to to make individual visual supports. There is a tutorial to teach you how to use the program.

If you have introduced line drawings to your child and they do not respond as you had expected, it may be that the pictures are too abstract for them. It does not mean that visual supports won't work for your child. In this instance start with photographs and try line drawings again a bit later.

Your autism therapist should be able to guide you when choosing the most appropriate visual supports for your individual child.

How much does it cost?

Boardmaker is fairly expensive for an individual family to purchase. It ranges from around A$550.00 to A$850.00. This is for a single user. If you are going to be using it a lot you may feel that it is worth the cost but if you are only going to use it for the odd image, you might want to look for other ways to access these images. Some early intervention programs will provide you with the images that you need. Your local autism organisation may have Boardmaker available for their members.

If you are doing PECS with your child, you will most likely be using line drawings for your PECS folder. Your speech therapist may provide you with the images you need at least initially, but if it seems that visual supports are going to be required as your child's main communication strategy in the long term, you may want to make the investment.

To return from Boardmaker to Autism Speech Therapy click here