Building Language for Your Child with Autism, Part 2: Matching Objects and Pictures as a Precursor to Language

Developmental Psychologist, Jean Piaget, observed that a child first becomes aware of a concept and then acquires the words to convey that concept. Think about this for a moment: a child has to know that an apple is a distinct and separate item, before they know they should give it a name. They have to realize that the apple is different than, say, the cup. This is where matching comes in.

To help teach this concept using pictures of objects, place two pictures on the table in front of your child, one picture of an apple, and the other of a cup (or some non-apple picture). Hand your child an identical picture of an apple. Ask your child to “match” the apples, or to “put with same.”

When your child can consistently match the two cards, regardless of the position of the cards, they likely understand that the apple is a distinct object. Now we are one step closer to giving that object a name!


This is a part of a series of guest posts by Angela Nelson on building language in children with autism. As the creator of the acclaimed Language Builder Picture Noun Card Set, Angela received her BA and JD from UCLA where she studied and practiced behavior psychology under Dr. Ivar Lovaas. She has been creating autism and special needs curriculum products since 1997.