If you need visuals, prompts, and examples to target yes and no questions for speech therapy, make sure to check out my Basic Conversation Visuals and Scripts for Speech Therapy! It contains 3 levels of conversation practice with great visuals to guide your students to success!
Read on for more information about how and why we target personal yes and no questions, wh- questions, and asking and answering questions in conversation.
There is a lot we can do when we have a yes and a no!
Yes and no are some of the most powerful words in the English language. Without them, we couldn’t express preference for something or refuse something undesirable.
Students with special needs may be particularly vulnerable and it is vital that we help them achieve their right to refuse or reject!
For people with multiple disabilities, a means of saying yes and no can open up a world of communication possibilities. Auditory scanning might be an option for visually-impaired students who can’t otherwise access a touch screen AAC app, but to scan, you need to able to signify that “yes, that’s the word I want” or “no, I want a different word.” Does it have to be a verbal yes and no? Definitely not! We are just looking for a clear and consistent way for a student to express preference or rejection.
Yes and no questions can be the simplest to answer because there are only two options to choose from.
These Basic Conversation Visuals and Scripts for Speech Therapy begin with personal yes and no questions for students to answer about themselves.
Sometimes SLPs might target yes and no questions about general knowledge. But, personal questions are much more meaningful than basic knowledge questions! These questions ask the students about themselves and give them a powerful voice to talk about what they want to talk about. Personal preferences are motivating AND functional!
You can use these visuals to promote good listening and answering skills. Ask the question and guide the student to a correct way to respond, according to their individual level of functioning.
Beginning AAC students might need to work on accurately nodding or shaking their heads. You can point to the icons to model, but we’re generally going to accept any method of communication here.
Intermediate AAC kids or vocal kids might be working on forming full sentences. You can use these cards to expand utterances in their responses.
But! Before you get started, this is really important: You MUST know the answers to these personal questions before you ask them!!
If you don’t know the answer to a yes and no question before you ask it, how will you know if the student is answering it accurately?
This is the tricky part about asking personal questions.
If you don’t know what your students likes and dislikes, then ask teachers and parents for input. The student might be indifferent to some of these questions, so just toss those out for now. Focus on the questions that have a reasonably strong response to begin with. If your student has strong opinions about a subject not included, there are blank templates for you to write your own!
Answering yes and no questions is an important speech therapy task, but don’t forget about asking yes and no questions!
Asking a yes or no question is actually really easy. Watch, I’ll do it with one word:
Now you can tell me yes you want cookies, or no you don’t want cookies (this is pretty context dependent, but it’s the earliest form of a yes or no question!)
Let’s talk about what made that question a question though. Written down, I used a question mark. Spoken out loud, I would use a rising intonation.
With that in mind, now think about our kids who use AAC devices. If they are only communicating with single words, there is no way to communicate the difference between Cookies! and Cookies?
Kent-Walsh, Binger, and Buchanan (2015) suggest that teaching inverted questions (“Is she laughing?”) is a valuable way to teach AAC users both sentence structure (syntax) and question asking (pragmatics). Teaching simple question structures helps AAC users be able to actively direct conversation and actions, rather than just passively respond.
The key is that these kids need structured instruction in order to learn and maintain these sentence types.
Similarly, my yes or no question prompts represent simple questions that can be asked from one peer to another. Work on sentence building while asking AND answering functional questions!
Not only can we use these question prompts with students who use AAC devices, we can also work with Autistic students who are working on social communication in the context of conversations. Practice taking turns asking and answering yes and no questions with the included step-by-step visuals!
When the time is right, you can level up to asking and answering personal wh- questions! The answers here will be more varied. Depending on the student, you might be focusing on:
Next, we head up to level 3: mixing up the questions based on a topic! Now we’re getting closer to conversation level communication! These visuals provide some basic visual prompts and cues, but overall, the students are going to need to generalize their skills.
Whew! You’ve built up some great question-askers! For next level question asking and answering, making sure to read about my conversation game for speech therapy.
And make sure to check out my materials for social skills training and visuals! Target social skills in a group environment by explicitly teaching these important pragmatic tools!
Kent-Walsh, J., Binger, C., & Buchanan, C. (2015). Teaching children who use augmentative and alternative communication to ask inverted yes/no questions using aided modeling. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. https://doi.org/10.1044/2015_AJSLP-14-0066