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Autism & PDD Answering Questions Level 1
Ages: 3-5   Grades: PreK-K

This resource helps students answer questions by picturing the concepts behind them.  Highly-visual content bridges the gap between concrete and abstract language. 



  • Communicate with less frustration
  • Answer questions about feelings and comprehend these question forms: why/because, going to, what if, what happened, what do you need, what do you do when, and what should


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** This is a Cloud E-Book that is accessible from any device with Internet access. .

Simple illustrations help students understand the logic behind the question and respond appropriately.  Students look at the picture, read the question or statement at the top of the page, and respond.  The complexity of response can range from single-word answers to complex utterances.  Visual prompts can be faded and question forms intermixed to facilitate generalization of the question concepts. 

Eight chapters include:

  1. Describing Feelings: Students answer the question, "How does he/she feel?" and identify emotions of hurt, mad, sad, happy, and scared.
  2. What Happened: Students answer the question, "What happened?" and explain situations like spilling a drink or breaking an object.
  3. What Do You Do When: Students draw from personal experiences or the experiences of others to answer the question, "What do you do when .  .  . ?"  This section gives practice in answering questions in novel, yet logical ways.
  4. Why/Because: Students give logical reasons for questions such as "Why is she taking her medicine?" and "Why is she mad?"
  5. Going To: Students learn to make and express predictions and draw conclusions as they answer questions that pertain to related objects (e.g., "He has a drum and drumsticks.  What is he going to do?" ) .
  6. What Do You Need: Students name two items needed to complete tasks like washing hands or drawing a picture (e.g., "Name two things you need to make toast").  Simple organizational skills like verbal sequencing and basic storytelling are developed. 
  7. What Should: Students demonstrate beginning logic and problem-solving skills by stating solutions to simple problems like what to do if a glass breaks ("John broke a glass.  What should he do?"). 
  8. What If: Students hypothesize about events they may not have experienced themselves ("What happens if you let go of a balloon?"). 

You may purchase Autism & PDD Answering Questions Level 1 individually or in a 2-book set, which consists of:

Autism & PDD Answering Questions Level 1

Autism & PDD Answering Questions Level 2


Copyright © 2001

191pages, answer key
  • Many children with autism spectrum disorders learn more readily through the visual modality (Taylor-Goh, 2005).
  • Asking wh- questions is a common method of teaching.  Difficulty answering wh- questions affects a child academically, linguistically, and socially (Parnell, Amerman, & Hartin, 1986).
  • Explicitly teaching and reinforcing inference-making leads to better outcomes in overall text comprehension, text engagement, and metacognitive thinking (Borné et al., 2005).
  • Reasoning skills encourage critical thinking and meta-awareness of internal thought processes.  Reasoning skills support students' logical judgments based on conscious reflection and sensitivity to multiple viewpoints (Little, 2002).
  • Reasoning and critical thinking are necessary skills for competence across the curriculum.  They require students to examine, relate, and analyze all aspects of a problem or situation.  Students engaged in critical thinking must make associations that connect problems with their prior knowledge (Pellgrini, 1995).

Autism & PDD Answering Questions Level 1 incorporates these principles and is also based on expert professional practice.


Borné, L., Cox, J., Hartgering, M., & Pratt, E. (2005). Making inferences from text [Overview]. Dorchester, MA: Project for School Innovation.

Little, C. (2002). Reasoning as a key component of language arts curricula. The Journal of Secondary Gifted Education, 13(2), 52-59.

Parnell, M.M., Amerman, J.D., & Hartin, R.D. (1986). Responses of language-disordered children to wh- questions. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 17, 95-106.

Pellegrini, J. (1995). Developing thinking and reasoning skills in primary learners using detective fiction. Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, 1. Retrieved March 11, 2009 from

Taylor-Goh, S. (2005). Royal college of speech & language therapists: Clinical guidelines. United Kingdom: Speechmark.


Linda Mulstay-Muratore


Linda Mulstay-Muratore, M.A., CCC-SLP, has worked as a speech-language pathologist in private practice since her graduation in 1996 from St. John's University in New York.  She gained her experience with children with PDD/autism and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) while in college working with families in home-based educational ABA programs.  Linda now does both consulting and direct therapy for children in early intervention and preschool, writing programs for and working in conjunction with teams of special educators.

Autism & PDD Answering Questions Level 1 is Linda's first publication with LinguiSystems.



Autism & PDD Answering Questions Level 1 was created for children who may have been able to grasp basic wh- questions, but have had difficulty advancing to comprehending more challenging linguistic and cognitive concepts.  Specifically, children with a diagnosis of autism or pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) often have strong visual and concrete thinking skills, but lack the ability to think abstractly or out of a specific context.  Autism & PDD Answering Questions Level 1 uses simple, uncluttered illustrations as visual prompts and cues to help such children bridge the gap between concrete and abstract language.

Although some children can learn the correct response to these questions simply through rote memorization in discrete trials, allowing a child to visualize the concept provides the opportunity to actually understand the questions and the logic behind the responses.

Instruction Guidelines

  • Children should be able to understand and answer simple who, what, and where questions before beginning this material.
  • If you are using the pictures in discrete trials, you may want to copy and laminate each picture for quick access.  Allow the child to color the pictures as instructed with dry-erase markers so the pictures can be used again.
  • Read the instructions at the beginning of each section before starting.
  • Accept responses as correct if they are appropriate and logical.  Examples of logical answers are listed in the Answer Key.
  • Model correct grammar and syntax when necessary.
  • Begin training with one target question form at a time.  Once the child masters more than one target question form, intermix these question forms in random order without using picture cues.  The child demonstrates mastery of these forms by answering similar questions appropriately and logically intermittently throughout your sessions and in natural contexts.
  • When applicable, suggested Short Term Objectives (STOs) in data collection for discrete trial training using this book are as follows:
        • STO 1: Full modeled prompt with pictures in view: Present the picture and read the question to the child.  Provide a verbal model and have the child repeat it.  Advance to STO 2 when the child is able to repeat a correct response with 90% accuracy over 2-3 consecutive days.
          • STO 2: Independent responses with pictures in view: Allow the child time to respond independently.  If the child correctly responds independently with 90% accuracy over 2-3 consecutive days, move on to STO 3.
            • STO 3: Independent responses, pictures not in view: Allow the child time to respond appropriately.  If the child responds appropriately with 90% accuracy over 2-3 consecutive days, move on to STO 4.
              • STO 4: Independent responses, pictures not in view, with question forms in random order: Intermix the target question form with other question forms the child has already mastered.  Allow the child time to respond appropriately.  Mastery of a question form is achieved when the child answers the target question form appropriately when asked in random order with other question forms, with 90% accuracy over 2-3 consecutive days.

          I enjoyed creating these functional language training materials for my students, especially those with autism or PDD.  I hope you find them helpful with your students as well.