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

Uncluttered, large-size, realistic photos isolate verb forms and help children comprehend, respond to, and ask questions.


  • Answer and ask questions that are meaningful using the following verb forms: regular past tense, irregular past tense, future tense, and present tense + infinitive
  • Use subject-verb and subject-verb-object combinations in varied levels of structured tasks
  • Remediate grammatical errors that are secondary to a motor speech disorder or a phonological process disorder
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240 cards target regular past tense, irregular past tense, future tense, and present tense + infinitive verb tense.  A three-level cueing hierarchy on the back of each card helps you phrase the stimulus to get the desired response.  Instruction cards give additional teaching strategies, including how to begin; how to make the task more or less difficult; and cues used to elicit correct syntax, morphology, and sound production.  The set covers these question forms:

  • regular past tense /t?d/, /d?d/ endings—The boy saw something in the sky.  Then what happened?  He pointed.
  • regular past tense /t/ endings—The boy has an apple.  I see an apple tree.  What happened?  He picked an apple.
  • regular past tense /d/ endings—The boy has a hair dryer.  His hair is dry.  What happened?  He dried his hair.
  • irregular past tense—I see a boy and part of a Popsicle.  What happened?  He ate (the Popsicle).
  • future tense—I see a girl with a shoe.  What will she do?  She will tie her shoe.
  • present tense + infinitive—The boy is sliding (down).  What does he like to do?  He likes to slide (down).

The adaptable cards present a wide variety of people and situations in functional, everyday life situations that are meaningful to children.  The cards are designed for children on the autism spectrum, but they also work well for children with other language disorders and English Language Learners.

Copyright © 2008

240 5" X 7" double-sided, full-color, coated picture/stimuli cards; 8 instructor cards
  • Many children with autism spectrum disorders learn more readily through the visual modality (Taylor-Goh, 2005).
  • Therapy aimed at fostering the development of age-appropriate communication skills and age/ability-appropriate language comprehension and language use will improve the child's level of functioning (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).
  • Complex sentence constructions enable an individual to understand and communicate about past and future events, provide a listener with adequate background information, and clarify one's emotional state and its contributing causal factors (ASHA, 2006b).
  • Based on the core challenges of individuals with autism spectrum disorders, ASHA suggests intervention goals that focus on expanding word knowledge and use to include action words and more complex grammar (ASHA, 2006a).

Autism & PDD Photo Cards Verb Tense 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]. Available 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]. Available 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 been working in a private pediatric clinic in Issaquah, Washington, just outside of Seattle since 2000.  Her patients range in age from eighteen months through fifteen years.  Jennifer specializes in the evaluation and treatment of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and preschoolers with motor speech disorders.  To meet the needs of her young patients with ASD, Jennifer created Autism & PDD Photo Cards Wh- Questions published by LinguiSystems in 2006.  Its immediate success and the continuing needs of her growing patients prompted her to develop Autism & PDD Photo Cards Verb Tense Questions.

Jennifer and her husband have two children, ages six and nine years.  In her spare time, she enjoys creating a variety of artistic pieces with a range of media, including metal, wire, acrylics, and paper.


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.  This can be a challenge for many children, but it's particularly difficult for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).  Adults frequently ask questions to learn what happened in the child's day, what the child wants to do in the future, and what the child likes to do.  The questions contain unfamiliar verbs, and the child must comprehend each verb as well as the question form in order to respond.  This can be an overwhelming task for a child with language disorders.  He may find it easier not to respond at all, giving the impression that he isn't attending to the speaker.  For children with ASD, this lack of response is often considered a social communication problem when, in fact, it is a result of a language deficit.

Children with disorders of language, motor sequencing, and phonology often demonstrate grammatical errors in their expressive language.  They may drop final consonants containing important grammatical content for a variety of reasons.  A child with motor sequencing problems may omit final sounds to simplify speech production.  A child demonstrating phonological process errors might eliminate final consonant sounds in words because of a deficit in his understanding and organization of the speech sound system.  A child with an expressive language disorder might neglect grammatical forms when so much attention is focused on the difficult tasks of word choice and sentence structure.  All of these difficulties result in the incorrect use or omission of past, present, and future tense verb forms.

This photo project began as a means to meet the needs of my patients.  Although some of the children with ASD that I work with can answer simple wh- questions, they are unable to respond to what happened questions.  If the child does understand how to answer the question, he often omits the regular past tense verb in his response, making it difficult to understand.  These children also have difficulty making a plan, expressing it verbally, and carrying it out.  Similarly, the children that can generate a plan often omit the future tense in their explanation, resulting in a confusing response.

Children with ASD are better able to attend to simple photos of real children without distracting background and competing stimuli.  It is also easier for them to learn a new skill when it is isolated and is the sole target of an activity.  Autism & PDD Photo Cards Verb Tense Questions combines simple, meaningful photos with simply written language prompts, a structured cueing hierarchy, and opportunity for repetition.

While these photos are a tool used to successfully teach question answering with verb tenses, they are only a single strategy.  The process of learning to attend to, answer, and ask questions that are meaningful and relevent to the situation is long and involved.  Autism & PDD Photo Cards Verb Tense Questions is one useful strategy for beginning the process.


Functional Outcomes
Autism & PDD Photo Cards Verb Tense Questions provides structured opportunities to isolate and highlight past, present, and future tense verbs.  At first the child will learn to use phrases containing the verb form (frog jumped).  Soon after the child will begin to generate full sentences in a structured format with the targeted verb form (She will pick the flower).  Through immediate implementation of less structured generalization activities, the child will start using the targeted verb forms to describe his own actions and the actions of other people.

In the next phase of development, the child will start using the targeted verb forms to predict and retell simple stories (The dog will look in the basket).  From there the child will be able to explain both recent and past activities (I tied my shoes).  Finally the child will be able to tell a series of past events and answer the question, "What did you do at school today?"  (I sat in a circle, listened to a story, colored a picture, ate a snack, and played outside.)

Measure improvement in stages.  Chart percent correct of the targeted verb forms in the following productions to measure progress:

  • subject-verb combinations in structured tasks
  • subject-verb combinations in unstructured play actions
  • subject-verb-object combinations in structured tasks
  • subject-verb-object combinations in unstructured play actions
  • use of targeted verb forms to predict or retell a series of events after given a model
  • use of targeted verb forms to predict or explain a series of events with no model