Boardmaker with Speaking Dynamically Pro Resource Package

Autism Spectrum Disorder Overview

Autism is a “neurological disorder [pervasive development disorder] that features challenges in communication, socialization, and behavior and imagination” (Simpson and Myles, 2008, p. 1). Sensory issues and repetitive behaviors are also main components. ASD “occurs in approximately 1 out of every 166 births” (Simpson and Myles, 2008, p. 17). The ratio of boys to girls is “3:1 or 5:1” respectively (Simpson and Myles, 2008, p. 20). The causes are still unknown and it is still being researched. In the meantime, we know that students with ASD benefit from “best practices that feature increased structure, increased adult directiveness, increased number of educational hours, and precise teaching methods in combination with a specific and carefully tailored curriculum” (Simpson and Myles, 2008, p. 26). It is important to note that “if you know one person with autism, you know ONE person with autism” (Simpson and Myles, 2008, p. 4). It is a wide spectrum. The best way to look at it is as a different way of perceiving the world; take it person by person!

Students with ASD benefit from: early intervention, visual schedules, routines, social stories, literal instructions, repetition, self-stiming, anxiety assistance, continuous prompts, rewards, advocacy, patience, inclusion, individual programming at times, community supports, social outings, qualified professionals, research-based strategies, and high expectations (Simpson and Myles, 2008, p. 28-60).

Strengths (Simpson and Myles, 2008, p. 28).

– physical development

– visual/spatial

– unique perspectives

– order and structure

– systemizing abilities

– rule and routine followers

– strengths such as music, math, calendars, categorizing

*keep in mind that strengths and areas of support change for each person*

Simpson, R. L., & Myles, B. S. (Eds.) (2008).  Educating children and youth with autism: Strategies for effective practice (2nd Ed.)  Austin TX:  Pro-ed.

What is Boardmaker?

Classroom Use

Boardmaker with Speaking Dynamically Pro is designed to help students with speech and/or language disabilities and transform any computer into a speech output device and powerful learning tool for students.

Within your classroom, the teacher can assign variety of activities to students to work on a computer with this software downloaded. You can create and customize activities to your students using Boardmaker, but Boardmaker also has great online community (Boardmaker Share) to share, download hundreds of activities created by other educators around globe.

Great thing about Boardmaker is the ability to print your activities, visual social stories and visual schedules to help all of students in your classroom.

Using combinations of words and visuals in your teaching practice and classroom can enhance the communication and learning of your students. Such as:

  • Job choice menus
  • Transition time card and charts
  • task organizer
  • daily schedule

You can read more ideas here.


Curriculum Connections

In general, Boardmaker supports:

  • Learning vocabulary
  • Providing visual and oral directions to support the multiple intelligences
  • Talk boards where students can communicate with one another
  • Circle time activities
  • Sentence building activities
  • Helps to structure a daily schedule in your classroom for all students
  • Assists transitions for students who need it

To provide an example, I have chosen to illustrate how Boardmaker can correspond with the Kindergarten curriculum.  The text in normal font is the outcome that I have taken directly from the Saskatchewan curriculum.  The bold text is a suggestion for how you could use Boardmaker to support the outcome. 

Kindergarten Curriculum


CRK.1 Comprehend and respond to a variety of visual, oral, print, and multimedia texts that address identity (e.g., exploring interests), community (e.g., belonging), and social responsibility (e.g., contributing).  Worksheets and flash cards for English Language Learners.

CRK.2 View and interpret the basic message of visuals and objects in a variety of texts including models, photographs, dramas, dance creations, and videos. Could upload photos from your students everyday life and have them correspond with text so students would be prompted to understand the basic message of the image.

CRK.3 Listen, comprehend, and respond to gain meaning in oral texts. Books and symbol-supported literacy activities for beginning and pre-readers.

CRK.4 Comprehend, retell, and respond to basic ideas in stories, poems, songs, and informational texts read to them.  Simple story and simple story with highlighting – reads the story aloud to students.

CCK.1 Compose and create various visual, multimedia, oral, and written texts that explore and present thoughts, ideas, and experiences. Allows you to build stories – gives options for clicking and organizes images with the words on a page.  Writing exercises that include stories, letters, etc.

CCK.2 Use and construct symbols, pictures, and dramatizations to communicate feelings and ideas in a variety of ways. Typing boards that can be modified for your purpose (frequently used, one that is organized alphabetically) Will read the sentences to you as you chose.

CCK.4 Create messages using a combination of pictures, symbols, and letters. Sorting the order in nursery rhymes.


USCK.1 Develop basic habits to establish healthy relationships with self, others, and the environment. Boardmaker has options for students to learn how to take turns, eat their lunch, etc.  All these functions are basic habits that keep us healthy.

USCK.2 Establish behaviours that support safety of self and others (including safety at school and at home). Children can communicate by using symbols.


NK.1 Say the whole number sequence by 1s starting anywhere from 0 to 10 and from 10 to 0. Math flashcards are provided to help students learn their numbers.

NK.2 Recognize, at a glance, and name familiar arrangements of 1 to 5 objects, dots, or pictures. Turns math problems into visuals – math flashcards.

NK.3 Relate a numeral, 0 to 10, to its respective quantity.

PK.1 Demonstrate an understanding of repeating patterns (two or three elements) by:

  • identifying
  • reproducing
  • extending
  • creating

patterns using manipulatives, sounds, and actions. A manipulative in math could be the text to speech on Boardmaker for a student who excels with they learn orally.

Physical Education

PEK.6 Rhythmical Movement Explore and perform rhythmical movement to different auditory (e.g., beat of a drum, clapping, music) rhythms (e.g., quick, slow) using a variety of locomotor movements including walking, running, balancing, jumping, galloping, hopping, and skipping skills. Boardmaker offers uses for sounds, so you could have the different rhythms.

PEK.7 Relationships Use respectful behaviours and safe practices while participating in cooperative games and physical movement activities.  Can make choice boards to suit the student or the class.

Social Studies

INK.1 Demonstrate an understanding of similarities and differences among individuals in the classroom.  There is an about me section where students could communicate about themselves to the class.

PAK.1 Understand and respect the agreed-upon rules of the classroom, playground, and school, and recognize that rules and expectations are designed to promote a state of safety, self-regulation, peace, balance, and harmony.  Circle time activities – counting, weather, date, time, show and tell, about me.

PAK.2 Recognize situations in which disagreement may be part of living, studying, and working together, and that resolution may be an avenue to progress to a state of peace, balance, and harmony. This is where you could use SocialStories to show students situations where people have disagreed and how they have resolved it in the past.  You could simulate stories or use real stories that have happened in your class.  You could include student names, students could help you create the story, etc.

Pros and Cons

Pros of the Boardmaker Software:

  • Calendars –> can be useful for students to know what is coming up so they can be prepared
  • Adapatbility –> “Boardmaker software runs on both the Windows and Macintosh formats” (Hillman 79)
  • Add ons –> there are add-ons you can add to your Boardmaker software
  • Companion Software –> they “provide companion software such as Picture This symbol library, sign language symbols, bingo games such as Print and Play, and Print and communicate” (Hillman 79); this allows creation of communication books
  • Premade templates –> made by the creators, these can help to save time
  • Printables –> anything you create on the software is printable; “printing of individual pictures and communication boards to meet particular needs” (Torrison et al, 109)
  • Filing System –> an online filing system makes it so you can keep everything in one spot
  • Languages –> “available in 10 different languages” (Hillman 79)
  • Sharing –> you can share your creations online and borrow from others who share
  • “over 3000 symbols for use” (Hillman 79)
  • No CD –> once the Boardmaker software is installed, there is no need for the CD to use the program
  • Pictures –> you have the “ability to import symbols from a scanner, digital camera, or screen shots” (Hillman 79) to customize for the student
  • Training –> there is “training in Boardmaker” (Torrison et al, 12

Boardmaker Options

Cons of Boardmaker Software:

  • Cost –> Boardmaker can cost upwards of $500 for the lowest option; can get other methods of technology cheaper
  • Time –> time consuming to learn how to use the software; also time consuming to create boards for individual students
  • Pictures –> premade pictures can be limited; uploading own pictures can take a long time
  • Age –> pictures are somewhat juvenile – targeted more specifically for elementary than high schoolTorrison, C. & Jung, E. & Baker, K. & Beliveau, C. & Cook, Albert. (2007) The impact of staff training in augmentative/alternate communication (AAC) on the communication abilities of adults with developmental disabilities. Developmental Disabilities Bulletin, 35(1/2), 103-130.
  • Hillman, R. (2000). Digital images/picture symbols: Using them with children with disabilities. MultiMedia Schools, 7(4), 78-9.

Boardmaker Price

Why Use Boardmaker and Digital Citizenship

1. Digital Access

Boardmaker encourage and help students with literacy, numeracy, social skills, vocational skills and many more. As well students to become better communicators.

However, there are few restriction when it comes to accessibility.

Purchase is necessary (which can be costly) and download the software to a computer to use Boardmaker. You may choose to go Boardmaker Online and create account which give you some flexibility to work on Boardmaker with any computer with internet access or even at your own home. With free community membership, you are able to browse and share your activities. However, you must purchase personal or professional membership to be able to create, print or play (assign) your activities.

It also offers Boardmaker Student Centre Apps for free. Students can access their assignment using iPad.

Boardmaker offers hundreds of uniformed symbols to choose from. You can create any visual materials with consistency. It also allows to upload your own photo or any visual from web directly into the program.

  1. Digital Commerce

Mayer Johnson offers Boardmaker families and many other products to help educators and families supporting children with special needs.

  1. Digital Communication

Boardmaker Online and Boardmaker Share help user connect and share their resources.

  1. Digital Literacy

It is user friendly and easy to figure out how to use this software on your own. Boardmaker offers many online tutorials as well.

  1. Digital Etiquette
  2. Digital Law
  3. Digital Rights and Responsibilities

While you use Boardmaker Online or Share, you should be keep in mind that it is a community of professionals and this tool is to teach and help students. You should be using appropriate languages and symbols.

  1. Digital Health and Wellness

Students may become obsessed with use of computer or iPad. Use of printed copy of visual aids may help keeping students on task.

  1. Digital Security

When you are using these online sources, you are required to create an account. And you are required to set a password for your security.

Current Events Lit

Resources and Samples

Example Boardmaker Pics

Social Story Visual

Boardmaker Studio Videos from Mayer-Johnson


Boardmaker images/templates

Pre-Made Boards, Curriculum and Disability Resources

Boardmaker YouTube Videos

SLP Boardmaker Share/Boardmaker Achieve Freebies

Boardmaker Share

Boardmaker Archive

Example Case Study by Kourtney

The following case study is fictitious. It was an assignment for EPSY 330: ASD that highlights the use of boardmaker to assist with IIP goals.

Case Study 330

EPSY 330 Materials Write-up Good Copy

VSP Goal and Target

Frequency Form

VSP Final Paper

Example Case Study by Mayer-Johnson

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