Objects of Reference

Objects of reference are often used to support children who have difficulty with understanding spoken words.

The idea is that by showing the child an object related to an activity or place they understand more clearly what is being asked of them – for example your child may have a favourite bath toy they associate with bath time so you may show this object when you say bath time.

Other examples could be:-

A coat or a pair of shoes shown when we say “going outside.”

A particular bag shown when we say “time for nursery.”

A plate or bowl shown when we say “dinner time.”

A nappy shown when we want to change our child’s  nappy

A cup to reinforce “do you want a drink?.”

When choosing the items remember –

  • The object should be meaningful to the child and be one they link to that activity or experience.
  • It should be shown when giving the child an instruction or a request.
  • The same object should always be used to indicate an instruction so if you use a coat for going out you should always use a coat to indicate going out.

The idea is that quickly the child learns what the objects relate to and this supports understanding and should make for smoother transitions between places and make requests like dinner time more easily understood.