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Using Objects of Reference

If you are using objects of reference as a means of communication, you need to think about how that object will make sense to the person you are using it with.

  • Items are often chosen because of their multi sensory properties (e.g. a piece of scented soap to signify washing, a pair of riding gloves that smell of the horse to signify riding) or their link with the activity (e.g.a piece of seat belt/buckle to signify going in the car).
  • The object of reference must be relevant to the individual, so two people may have different objects of reference for the same toy or activity.
  • Avoid objects made of a material the person dislikes.
  • Manipulating the object helps the child build up a mental picture of it. 
  • The object may be a miniature version of the real object, although this choice may be more for the benefit of the facilitator than the user. If you are not able to see, then a toy car bears little resemblance to the experience of going in a car - you cannot see that the toy car is a miniaturised version of the real thing; it does not feel like a real car, it does not sound like one, smell like one, or feel like it does when you are motoring along.