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Autism & PDD Things I Can Say and Do People & Places
Ages: 5-18   Grades: K-Adult

Use predictable visual prompts and organizers to teach the functional language, vocabulary, and behaviors students need to use at school, home, and in the community, as well as places they may attend with family, friends, and classmates.


  • Understand the functions of various people encountered in daily life and initiate conversation with them
  • Develop a repertoire of appropriate communication and behavior for specific places in the community
  • Increase community participation and build social networks
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This book has 21 "Say" communication webs, 21 "Do" activity webs, and corresponding blank webs for customization.  Each web displays a central concept with either conversation starters or activities.  The "Say" communication webs provide students with actual sentences to say in a variety of functional contexts.  The "Do" activity webs highlight a variety of actions using the same contexts.  The webs can be used to target a variety of goals including:

  • sentence formation
  • turn taking and conversational skills
  • vocabulary development
  • social skills
  • grammar development

Students learn conversational exchanges and corresponding behaviors to use with people (e.g., classmates, teachers, and strangers) and at places around the community (e.g., the mall, the grocery story, and the park).

Extra helps include:

  • an Information Form to gather information from your student's family to personalize the webs
  • a family letter
  • a progress chart

You may purchase People & Places individually or as a 6-book set

The six-book set consists of:
Autism & PDD Things I Can Say and Do Body Parts & Clothing
Autism & PDD Things I Can Say and Do Feelings & Actions
Autism & PDD Things I Can Say and Do Holidays
Autism & PDD Things I Can Say and Do People & Places
Autism & PDD Things I Can Say and Do Staying Clean & Healthy
Autism & PDD Things I Can Say and Do Weather, Seasons, & Months

Copyright © 2006

93 pages
  • Children with language difficulties, particularly those with pragmatic impairments, need specific teaching to help social understanding (ASHA, 2006).
  • Children with autism need approaches that focus on social functioning.  These approaches should be introduced as ongoing intervention strategies from early years to adulthood (Taylor-Goh, 2005).
  • Children make sense of the world through the language they use.  Graphic and semantic organizers help learners connect a central concept or theme to a variety of related ideas and events (National Reading Panel, 2000).
  • Therapy should target the initiation of spontaneous communication in functional activities across social partners and settings (ASHA, 2006).
  • Therapy should enhance the initiation of communication for a range of social functions that are reciprocal and promote the development of friendships and social networks (ASHA, 2006).

Autism & PDD Things I Can Say and Do People & Places incorporates these principles and is also based on expert professional practice.


American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). (2006). Guidelines for speech-language pathologists in diagnosis, assessment, and treatment of autism spectrum disorders across the life span [Guidelines]. Retrieved March 5, 2009 from

National Reading Panel. (2000). Teaching children to read. Retrieved March 5, 2009 from

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


Michele Zucker Saunders


Michele Zucker Saunders, M.S., CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist from Rockland County, New York.  She received two master's degrees related to language development and disorders: Speech-Language Pathology from New York Medical College, Valhalla, New York, and Teaching English as a Second Language from the College of New Rochelle, New Rochelle, New York.

Michele has worked in the field of communication disorders for the past 10 years and, throughout her career, has worked with both typically-developing children and those with developmental delays/disabilities, spanning from toddlers to adults.  Her past work experience includes clinic/hospital settings, special education preschools, elementary schools, high schools, and currently a public middle school servicing grades 5-7.

Michele, her husband, Michael, and their dog, Romeo, welcomed their first baby, Jayne Isabella, into their family on June 8, 2005.

The Autism & PDD Things I Can Say and Do books are Michele's first publications with LinguiSystems.


As a speech-language pathologist (SLP), I have had the opportunity to work closely with children who have communication disorders and autism/ Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD).  Throughout my experiences, I have observed how demanding it can be for children with language disorders, especially those on the autism spectrum, to access and/or initiate language.  Because I recognized that children with autism often present with strength in concrete and literal tasks, and because this population most often exhibits visual learning styles, I designed the Autism & PDD Things I Can Say and Do series.  This series provides students on the autism spectrum and students with communication disorders with functional and relevant communication and activity webs that allow them to break the complex code of the English language.

I have used these communication and activity webs with my students and have enthusiastically watched them gain feelings of achievement and success when they realized that they were finally breaking the code and functionally communicating with others.

There are 21 functional topics covered in each book in Autism & PDD Things I Can Say and Do:

          Body Parts & Clothing          People & Places

          Feelings & Actions               Staying Clean & Healthy

          Holidays                                 Weather, Seasons, & Months

The communication and activity webs are designed to be used together or separately, depending upon your students' abilities and/or focus of therapy.  The "Say" communication webs provide students with actual sentences to say in a variety of functional contexts.  The "Do" activity webs highlight a variety of actions using the same functional contexts.  You will notice that some of the "Do" activity webs include items such as "Tell a friend I am having fun" or "Ask for help finding something."  These items help promote a student's expressive language skills by giving a prompt to say something but not providing the actual response.  In addition, the format of the communication and activity webs (i.e., square vs. triangle) were designed to help students visually differentiate between what to "Say" and what to "Do."

Autism & PDD Things I Can Say and Do People & Places helps students develop functional language and vocabulary skills for people and places they encounter on a daily basis.  Through use of the communication and activity webs in appropriate contexts, students will gain insight and meaning relative to the names and functions of people they will see at school, at home, and in their communities, as well as places they may attend with family, friends, and classmates.  By focusing on these topics, students will have the chance to acquire functional terminology to use both receptively and expressively in their daily lives.

Suggested Guidelines for Using Autism &PDD Things I Can Say and Do

  1. Open the lines of communication
  2. Most professionals in the field of communication disorders recognize that any therapy technique or methodology works best when there is support from parents/guardians, classroom teachers, service providers, and support staff.  By working as a team, you are more likely to have an outcome of success and carryover of skills.  With this in mind, it is very important to consult with parents and colleagues before, during, and throughout the use of Autism & PDD Things I Can Say and Do.

    You can act as the liaison between school and home by consulting, collecting information, and explaining/demonstrating proper techniques so the communication webs can positively impact your students' language skills.

  3. Familiarize yourself with the forms
  4. In each book, you will find a parent/guardian letter, Web Information Form, and Web Progress Chart.  Send home the parent letter at the start of the program.  Each time you introduce a new web, send home the information form.  The progress chart will help you keep track of webs used and student progress.  These forms are meant to save you time, promote organization, and simplify your job.

  5. Be functional
  6. In order to get your students to use the webs, it is important to make the webs appealing.  How do you do this?  Be functional.  The goal is for the web to have more significance to the student than just a sheet of paper with words on it.  In order to accomplish this, think about what the student wants, desires, and enjoys.  Have the student use the webs at functional and routine times.  Initially use webs that will give the student feedback (e.g., tangible or visual response).  For example, you may choose to use the web Things I Can Say at Recess.  Have the student ask a peer "Do you want to play ball?" and wait for the response.  Your student will feel empowered when he realizes that his communication results in a positive reaction from another person.  This is bound to motivate him to use the webs again and again.

    Students with communication disorders can also be motivated by being included in a discussion with peers.  With this in mind, you might select a web that will allow your student to appropriately share in a circle time activity, a holiday conversation, or simply an exchange between him and a fellow classmate during a structured activity.  For example, you might have a student ask his peer, "Will you sit next to me?"  When the student sees the physical change (e.g., his friend now sitting next to him) as a result of his question, it will grab his attention, pique his curiosity, and keep him wanting more!

  7. Share with colleagues
  8. Remember to make sure that the webs are being used in other locations outside the therapy room; otherwise, your students' skills might improve in therapy but will have little or no change outside the therapeutic setting.  Squeeze in the time to talk to the classroom teacher, teachers of special classes, other service providers, and of course the student's parents.  Distribute copies of the web(s) across settings to promote carryover, consistency, and awareness.  Don't forget to let your colleagues know about the progress and/or changes you've observed and to take the time to ask them what they've observed while working with the student.

  9. Promote conversational exchanges
  10. As communication specialists, we dedicate ourselves to creating and providing functional, effective, and an abundance of communicative opportunities for our students.  Autism & PDD Things I Can Say and Do provides an assortment of communication and activity webs that address numerous activities of daily living, including common and relevant sentences while promoting social initiation and interaction.  All you need to do is to be prepared with the suitable web for a specific context.

    You can motivate a student by using a communication or activity web to initiate interactions between you and the student or between the student and a peer.  Using these webs during meaningful times will give your student the opportunity to become a more active participant conversationally.  For example, you may decide to accompany your student to the cafeteria with the web Things I Can Say at Lunch.  Cue your student verbally or nonverbally to initiate the question, "What did you bring for lunch?"  Following the reply from a peer, prompt the student to answer, "I like _____."  The objective, over time, is to ask a question and have the student independently select appropriate responses from the web.  The ultimate goal is for your student to use the information on the webs independently in appropriate contexts.

    Based on this example, you can surmise that when using the books in this series, it is important to be a good planner with regard to web selection, contextual opportunities, and collaborating with colleagues.

  11. Personalize the webs
  12. Each completed communication and activity web is accompanied by a blank template that can be filled in with individualized, personal statements regarding your student.  You may decide to make changes to the completed web or create a personalized web based on the student's needs.

    Each time you decide to use a blank template, you may send home the Web Information Form for input.  Family members can provide valuable information about the student's experiences outside of school, such as names of family members, places the student goes, activities at home, etc.  With this information, you will be able to better design an individualized web that meets the student's communication needs at school and at home.

  13. Adapt as needed
  14. The Autism & PDD Things I Can Say and Do series provides black-and-white reproducible pages to allow for flexibility and creativity.  Depending upon the student's needs, you may decide to color code the webs to help your student organize them (e.g., feelings may be blue, places may be orange, actions may be green).  In addition, you might put some of the webs into a notebook and/or laminate and display them (full-size or reduced versions) strategically in the classroom, library, etc.

  15. Choose your stage and your audience
  16. You can use the webs with students during individual therapy sessions and/or group sessions in the therapy room, the classroom, around the school, and in the home.  Once you introduce each web, post it in the area where the student can most functionally access it throughout the day.

    For example, you might post webs by the calendar that relate to that month (e.g., Things I Can Say/Do In February, Things I Can Say/Do in Winter, and Things I Can Say/Do on Valentine's Day).  This way, students have visible and routine access to relevant webs for review.

    Other webs may be posted throughout the classroom to promote initiation and language use.  For example, you might post the webs Things I Can Say/Do During a Game in the game center of the classroom, Things I Can Say/Do with Coats and Jackets by the closet area, and Things I Can Say/Do When Washing My Hands near or in the bathroom.

    For group sessions, provide each student with a copy, review the options to choose from, and then have each student perform one of the options.  This allows each student to acquire meaning through experience.  Each student in the group may learn via observation or may benefit from taking turns saying each option on the web.  The repetition can be valuable for all students in the group as you familiarize them with appropriate choices for specific contexts.

Remember that each web targets an array of speech and language goals, such as sentence formation/use, word structures/endings, conversational skills, turn taking, and associated words.  Because these webs are so functional, they can also be used with English language learners and with students with other developmental delays, such as language delays, pragmatic deficits, and learning disabilities.  Take advantage of these language-stimulating webs as you help your students access language.

It is my hope that the communication and activity webs in Autism & PDD Things I Can Say and Do will help your students in the same way they helped mine.  I feel confident that by using these communication and activity webs with your students, you will be providing them with the tools they need to independently interact and communicate successfully with others.

Michele Zucker Saunders