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Using Picture Cues for Voice Regulation

Submitted by Craig on Mon, 10/10/2011 - 22:23.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve suggested visual strategies to help kids follow routines, make independent choices, etc. Here’s another visual strategy you can use for the child who may need a reminder to lower the volume of his voice when speaking a little too loudly.

Some of our kids with social deficits may not have the social awareness to know when their voice volume is a little too high. This may especially be the case in certain social situations, settings or environments. Since a lot of our little guys are visual learners, it’s often best to use picture/visual cues over verbal prompts (which can draw attention from peers and are difficult to fade out).

This strategy is simple, easy to make, and super easy to implement! All you need is a strip of paper about 4 inches in length, a happy face, and a second face looking less than pleased, with his hands over his ears. (See example) While the person who developed this strategy used Boardmaker (which runs at around $400.00), it works just as well if you were to draw it. In the end, it’s really the same difference (and it’ll save you a whole lot of money!). The happy face means the volume of the child’s voice is appropriate, while the other face suggests an inappropriate volume of voice.

When the child’s volume of voice is getting too high, simply show him the picture card while raising the paperclip accordingly. Visually, this will show the child that he may need to lower his voice volume. As he does so, move the paperclip down to where you believe his volume of voice is at. Of course, the ultimate goal would be for the paperclip to be moved to the bottom of the arrow, closer to the smiley face. With the paperclip positioned here, this tells the child that he is using an appropriate volume of voice in that particular setting or situation.

This strategy is considered to be ‘less restrictive,’ which is the level of intervention where we always want to start. Remember – when developing strategies for children, we always want to start out with interventions that are least restrictive, moving to most restrictive (after all other options have been exhausted).


Special thanks to Gina M. Harrison, M.Ed., Behavior Specialist, for this terrific strategy!

Craig Gibson, M.Ed., was diagnosed with a learning disability at the age of six, and spent the next twelve years in special education. He has since earned two degrees, has published on the local and national levels, and is a Featured Blogger of the internationally acclaimed AutsmSpot.com. Craig is also the Editor in Charge of SensorySpot.com (sister site of AutismSpot.com). Craig can be reached at craig.gibson6@verizon.net.