Five Great Speech Games for Autistic Children: How to Help Your Child Overcome Communication Difficulties

Five Great Speech Games for Autistic Children: How to Help Your Child Overcome Communication Difficulties
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As someone who has worked briefly as a speech therapist, this writer knows first-hand about the benefits of speech games for autistic children. While these children vary in their communication abilities or disabilities, simple yet effective speech games provide the impetus to encourage children to make efforts to communicate in ways they may not have been able to previously.

List of Speech Games for Autistic Children

Since communication is one of the primary needs of autistic children, speech games and assistive technology designed to augment speech and language (i.e., Augmentative and Alternative Communication, or AAC, devices and systems) are beneficial toward establishing the goal of initiating and facilitating communication. The following list contains five types of speech games and learning aids that this writer used effectively in speech therapy sessions with clients in the pre-K age range. Of course, the degree of speech that takes place depends on each child’s ability to communicate. In some cases, non-verbal autistic children eventually acquire speech, while others improve their receptive and expressive language skills.

1. PECS – the book and the games [1]

The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) is one of the most popular AAC systems used by therapists, educators, and families alike. Ease of use, low cost, and variety of implementation techniques are some of the features of PECS. The basic PECS components include picture cards of familiar objects and actions, and some delivery method for displaying or using the picture cards. PECS components and games teach children to discriminate between pictures, and focus on initiating communication.

For instance, a therapist, educator, or parent can create a PECS book using a three-ring binder with plastic inserts. He or she can then use sticky-back Velcro or other adhesive tape to attach the picture cards to the inserts, as well as create a “sentence strip” at the bottom of the binder cover. This learning aid/speech game initiates and facilitates communication as the autistic child learns to create short phrases or sentences using the picture cards.


Several types of games also use picture cards to address certain areas of learning. One PECS game is a “Yes-No” book featuring smiley face “Yes” game pieces and frowning “No” game pieces. Each page in the book contains a few questions, to which the child responds with a “Yes” or “No” game piece.

Yes-No Questions Workbook

Yes-No Questions Workbook Page

Yes-No Questions Game

Another game uses cards depicting familiar rooms in a home: bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, and living room. The game pieces represent common objects found in those rooms. The game cards and pieces again have Velcro on them, to allow children to stick the pieces on the appropriate room card. Children work on communication skills as they discuss their rooms and the items chosen to go in them.

PECS Rooms Game

PECS Rooms Game

Other games include one based on the familiar “Wheels on the Bus” song, and Animal Lotto.

Wheels on the Bus game

Wheels on the Bus - pages

PECS Game based on “Wheels on the Bus” Song

Animal Lotto

Animal Lotto

This learning aid also uses picture cards and functions as an articulation practice game based on the “LiPS” method (Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing). The LiPs method teaches children phonemic awareness, as they learn the mouth actions that produce specific speech sounds. [2]

LiPS book-pg1

LiPS book-pg2

LiPs articulation practice game

[List of speech games continued on next page].

List of Speech Games for Autistic Children (continued)

This section continues the list of speech games and learning aids effective for therapy with autistic children.

2. Consonant Blends Pocket Chart [3]

This learning aid masquerades as a game, helping children match pictures of items with the beginning sounds they make. The therapist or educator can choose which “blend” cards to line up in the top vinyl pocket. He or she can then model the sounds, and instruct the children to practice the sounds. The “fun” part then occurs when children take turns looking through the picture cards and finding the appropriate items that coordinate with the correct “blend.” The children then place the correct picture cards under the correct “blend” cards, as they practice saying the item. Further extensions of the game may include the therapist or educator asking the autistic child questions about the item represented on the picture card, or helping the child use the word in a sentence.

Beginning Blends

3. Puzzles

Most children enjoy puzzles, and autistic children are no exception. Puzzles fulfill multiple therapeutic advantages. In addition to increasing fine motor coordination and eye-hand coordination, puzzles also provide aids to communication. Therapists can encourage conversation about the puzzle: colors, shapes, number of pieces, objects or scenes displayed individually, and the overall picture depicted by the puzzle.


4. Zingo matching game [4]

This is the child version of the popular Bingo game played by adults. Zingo features brightly colored tiles of familiar objects and animals, coordinated with game cards of the same items. Zingo provides opportunities for children to learn about taking turns, as well as matching tiles to the correct images of the game cards. Children also improve their speech as they talk about the images that appear on their tiles, as well as express their excitement over getting matches and being the first one to yell, “Zingo!”


5. VOCAs

Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCAs) are additional items beneficial in therapy, but they typically cost more than the other methods. They vary from simple or low-tech handheld devices with images on the keys or buttons, to more complex or high-tech devices incorporating an actual computer keyboard suitable for older autistic individuals. VOCAs feature “type-and-talk” assistive technology, a form of AAC that helps autistic students to speak, read and write.[5]

Sequencing Game VOCA


Speech games for autistic children help form the bridge between their communication difficulties and new or improved ways to communicate. Initiation and facilitation of efforts to communicate are the primary benefits of speech games in therapy. Other related benefits include social skills training, such as learning to take turns, as well as fine motor coordination and eye-hand coordination.

References, Resources, & Image Permissions

Please check out the relevant references for this article, as well as helpful resources to expand your knowledge on this topic. The article’s image permissions are also below.


[1] Pyramid Educational Consultants. What is PECS? Retrieved from

[2] Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes. The Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing Program. Retrieved from

[3] ACE Educational Supplies. Beginning Blends Portable Table Top Pocket Chart. Retrieved from

[4] Zingo Zingo Game. Retrieved from

[5] Dynavox Mayer Johnson. AAC Devices. Retrieved from


AAC Online Instructional Activities and Resources for Teachers. Retrieved from

Carol’s Speech and Language Disorders Homepage. Online Speech and Language Activities. Retrieved from

Home Speech Home. Simplified Speech Therapy Materials to Use at Home. Retrieved from

I Click - I Talk. Affordable Communication Software-Screenshots. Retrieved from

Minnesota State University-Communication Disorders. Examples of Materials That Can Be Adapted For Therapy. Retrieved from

Image Permissions

All photos of items except the VOCA are property of this article’s author, K’Lee Banks.

VOCA photo - used by permission and courtesy of autism consultant Susan Stokes and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction at