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Autism & PDD Photo Cards Wh- Questions
Ages: 3-11   Grades: PreK-6         

Teach early question asking and answering skills with these full-color photo cards.  Uncluttered backgrounds and real-life photos help children focus on critical components.


  • Comprehend, respond to, and ask wh- questions
  • Generate simple to complex sentences, use pronouns, and increase vocabulary
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Children comprehend, respond to, and ask eight question forms. The 240 large-size cards are arranged in a hierarchy of difficulty.  

The set includes 30 cards for each of these question forms:

  • Who—Who takes care of the sick girl?
  • What have—What does she have?
  • What doing—What are they doing?
  • What have + what—What does he have? What is he doing?
  • Where—Where is the dog?
  • When—When does she use an umbrella?
  • Why—Why is the girl sad?
  • How—How will he get to school?

The cards are adaptable and depict a wide variety of people and situations in functional, everyday life.  Use them for discrete trial teaching and applied behavior analysis programs.  Teach students to generate simple to complex sentences and develop pronoun use and vocabulary. 

Copyright © 2007

240 5" X 7" double-sided, full-color, coated picture/stimuli cards; 8 instructor cards
  • Verbal and nonverbal means of communication, including natural gestures, speech, signs, pictures, written words, functional alternatives to challenging behaviors, and other augmentative communication systems should be assessed and enhanced (ASHA, 2006b).
  • Treatment must be tailored to the child's individual behavior and needs (ASHA, 2006b).
  • Generalization and maintenance of intervention targets should be facilitated in functional settings (ASHA, 2006a).
  • Many children with autism spectrum disorders learn more readily through the visual modality (Taylor-Goh, 2005).
  • Early intervention is likely to be beneficial in fostering the development of communication skills in children with autism spectrum disorders (Taylor-Goh, 2005).

Autism & PDD Photo Cards Wh- Questions incorporates these principles and is also based on expert professional practice.


American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). (2006a). Guidelines for speech-language pathologists in diagnosis, assessment, and treatment of autism spectrum disorders across the life span [Guidelines]. Retrieved November 6, 2009, from

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). (2006b). Principles for speech-language pathologists in diagnosis, assessment, and treatment of autism spectrum disorders across the life span [Technical Report]. Retrieved November 6, 2009, from

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


Jennifer Benoliel


Jennifer Benoliel, M.S., CCC-SLP, earned her master's degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences at the University of Washington in 1996.  She served as a speech-language pathologist for the Bellevue Public Schools for four years and has spent the past five years working in a private pediatric clinic in Issaquah, Washington, just outside of Seattle.  Her patients range in age from two through fifteen years.  Jennifer specializes in treating children with motor speech disorders and prefers working with the preschool population.  She additionally is rewarded by working with recently diagnosed two and three year olds with autism spectrum disorders and their families.  Jennifer and her husband have two children, ages five and eight years.  Together, they enjoy exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest.


Speech-language pathologists and special education teachers are responsible for teaching many specific skills to children with language disorders.  One of the most important language skills young communicators must learn is to answer and ask questions.  Teaching this skill can be a challenge, especially when a child doesn't comprehend what questions are and how to respond to them.  People are constantly asking children questions for a variety of purposes, such as the following:

  • to obtain information (What do you have?  What are you doing?)
  • to gain attention (Where did that ball go?)
  • to take turns in a conversation (Who else did you see at school today?)
  • to teach vocabulary (What is this?)
  • to obtain an explanation (How did you do that?  Why are you crying?)

Children hear these types of questions repeatedly throughout the day, but if they don't comprehend the question form, they may not respond accurately or at all.  This photo project began out of necessity for one specific four-year-old boy with a diagnosis of autism.  He was unable to answer many wh- questions; he was easily distracted by competing stimuli; and he learned best through multiple, repeated examples.  He loved children's pictures in books as well as a photo album of a recent trip to Italy.  He could answer some simple What is it? questions, but he frequently did not attend to or respond to other questions.

When I searched for appropriate materials to teach this child to answer basic wh- questions, what I found was either too high level, had cartoon drawings with too much visual information, was too small to grasp and maintain a child's attention, or the content wasn't meaningful to a young child.  Using a digital camera and child models, I created simple photos of children (including the boy himself) holding objects or performing actions.  I removed all background and unnecessary information from each picture to reduce distractions, leaving only the child and the cue for answering the question in the photo.

When I presented the photos to the child, they were an immediate hit!  The boy attended fully to each photo as it was interesting, meaningful, and simple.  It also provided the necessary framework for discussion in order to answer the question.  The strategy worked!  The child quickly learned to consistently answer what have and what doing questions.  He then learned to attend to and differentiate between those two what question forms when he was looking at a single photo.  With the help of the photos, his comprehension of who and where questions quickly followed.  Finally, I introduced him to when, why, and how question photos, and he successfully learned to answer all wh- question forms.

While these photos are a tool you can use to successfully teach early question answering and asking, they are only a single strategy.  The process of learning to attend to, answer, and ask questions that are meaningful and relevant to the situation is long and involved.  Autism and PDD Photo Cards Wh- Questions is one useful strategy for beginning this process.