Line drawing of a face with one finger over the mouth with the caption Cue cards: what are they? when should they be used? learn with emily dot com

Cue Cards

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Cue cards are a visual way to help a child remember what to do. Cue cards are a type of prompt. A prompt is a hint that will help a child demonstrate the correct response. Cue cards can be used in place of other types of prompts. A cue card may be less conspicuous than a verbal prompt in some settings. The cards can contain written words or phrases and/or a pictorial representation of the cue (Quill, 2002).

When should cue cards be used?

Cue cards will be most effective when the reason a child cannot complete a task or activity is because he 1) does not remember what to do, or 2) missed the natural cue that something was required. In the first situation, the cue card will help him remember what to do. In the second situation, the cue card can help the child become more aware of relevant information. If a child cannot meet expectations because of a missing skill, the cue card will not help. Instead, the missing skill should be taught and addressed using an appropriate instructional strategy.

Some examples of cue card forms include:
    • Created ahead of time on an index card and presented when a prompt is needed
    • Written on a small board (dry erase or chalk board) and changed depending on the situation
    • A list of reminders


Some examples of cue card uses:
  • Written visual cues, such as “look” and “watch me,” have been used to increase scripted communication.  The cues were then faded and the skill generalized across activities and communication partners (Krantz & McClannahan, 1998).
  • To remind a child to ask for help when stuck on a task.
  • To let a child know that something in a class session is important to write down for later studying.
  • A pictorial representation of “quiet” to let the child know it is not time to talk or make noises.

line drawing of hand waving with the caption raise your hand drawing of face with finger over mouth and the caption quiet a picture of heads circled into a group with the word everybody

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Cue cards are a visual strategy that may be used to help a child remember what to do in particular situations. Cue cards can be used as an accommodation to access curriculum. Cue cards may be used to prompt what to do in a social setting, within the classroom, or at home.


Krantz, P. J., & McClannahan, L. E.  (1998).  Social interaction skills for children with autism: A script-fading procedure for beginning readers.  Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 31(2), 191-202.

Quill, K. (2002).  Do-Watch-Listen-Say:  Social and Communication Intervention for Children with Autism.  Paul H. Brookes Publishing.


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