Choice boards

Supporting people to make choices is vital - it is a crucial part of how we express ourselves and exercise autonomy

Some people benefit from support to make choices and develop their sense of independence and control. Choice can increase a person’s interest and engagement in an activity and help them learn more. Choice helps develop communication by reinforcing cause and effect, establishing a good rapport, and developing a two way dialogue.

There is value in introducing regular opportunities to choose – for example, colour of buoyancy aid, activity, colour of boat, role in boat.

Pictures, symbols, text or objects can be used to represent the choice options.

A portable board can be useful so you can take it to the activity or where the choice needs to happen and enforce the choice as close as possible to when it was made.

The number of choices you make available will vary according to the individuals. Be careful not to overwhelm or create pressure to choose anything – perhaps start offering a small number of choices and introduce more as you get to know the person.

It can be important to check the choice a person has made – particularly if you are not sure you have clearly communicated the options. Ask them to show the choice again, perhaps swapping the choices around.

Some people may not have the skills to express their choice easily. A number of strategies may help:

  • Reduce the demands on them (e.g. the number of choices),
  • check the visual clues for the choices are within their field of vision,
  • find out how the person indicates ‘Yes’ and ‘No’,
  • learn their body language and gestures (smiles, eye flicker, whole body reaction.

Further reading

Next - social stories are a great way to introduce a new situation to people who need reassurance

Social stories

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