Yes and No Games


General Learning Goals

  • to intentionally interact and communicate for more reasons, with more success, and with more pleasure

  • to communicate using words, gestures, eye-gaze, facial expressions and body language

  • to imitate what others do including actions, words, melody of voice, and personal style

  • to enjoy playing and interacting with others for longer periods of time

Managing Attention

  • to be increasingly aware of what a play partner is looking at, doing, feeling, and trying to accomplish

Initiating and Making Choices

  • to make a choice and say NO or YES to obtain the correct choice


  • to understand and use nonverbal gestures: head shake for NO and head nod for YES and finger wag for scolding

  • to understand No and Yes as meaning different things at different times

  • to ask with yes/no questions words DO, DOES

Managing Emotions

  • to stay emotionally regulated (calm) when others say No


  • to play different roles within play activities

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from

Stuck on No

Emmy came into our clinic yelling NO SAY NO, TAREEA (one of many interesting ways that children said my name). Emmy did not like hearing NO but she liked screaming it. Every game I offered Emmy was met with a loud high pitched NO! I began to respond EMMY SAYS NO POTATO HEAD TODAY or EMMY SAYS NO PUZZLES TODAY. So after Emmy responded, NO SAY NO, TAREEA! Emmy was one of many children that I worked with who got stuck on NO or who had a meltdown if I said NO, or who never said NO and always agreed, even with tears running down their face they said YES while clearly not meaning YES. This collection of games was created so that children could experience YES and NO with less stress.

Can We Go?

This is one of my favorite games for helping young children with ASD learn how to use nonverbal yes/no, how to accept "no" and how to say "no" to others. It is also a highly cooperative game to play with another person but the structure is simple so that children can learn to play it very early.


Scolding is a very distinctive verbal activity and may even be a nonverbal activity (notice the finger wagging). For children with ASD, it is often a fun way to use language and saying NO, NO, NO delights children as they learn to talk. Even before learning to say NO, they may be able to learn the scolding finger wag.


One important thing that children with ASD may not be able to figure out is when NO means NO FOREVER versus when it means NO, NOT NOW but later a YES is coming. Parents can make this easier by using some Scripted Language to make this clear. The script in this case is NO, NOT YET! I often used a little language Script when I wanted a child to know that it was NO FOREVER and squatted down to the child's level took their hands in mine and sadly said I HAVE BAD NEW, PUT YOUR SAD FACE ON, TAHIRIH SAYS NO. I think this helped children prepare emotionally and it helped them to understand that it was not worth their while to have a melt-down as a communication strategy that meant, TAHIRIH, PLEASE RECONSIDER! It goes without saying that I never backed down from a position where I used the BAD NEWS strategy but I did express empathy when it was really hard for the child to accept.


In this game, two sisters are practicing asking and answering (and accepting the answer) in DO YOU WANT_____? questions while building a Fruit Train.


Two sisters practice asking a yes/no question, CAN I HAVE ____? The answer may be YES or NO. This kind of game desensitizes a child to being told NO. It is clearly not the end of the world to be told NO in this game and both children reverse roles so that both can tell the other NO or YES.

Does it go here? Yes or No?

Answering the question HERE? meaning DOES IT GO HERE? with YES or NO. This video was made as a video model for a game that we will play with a child after they watch this video. The learning goal is 1) that the child can practice comprehending and then answering the question HERE? 2) that the child can practice accepting the answers YES or NO and comprehend that they just mean the item does not belong.


In this video, a little girls father is playing a Hide and Find Game where he tells her where to find a hidden object by shaking his head NO or nodding YES. Many children with ASD neither use nonverbal gestures nor look for them when other people use them. Games like this help children become more aware of the nonverbal communication that is occurring around them and if the roles are reversed in this kind of a game, the child has a chance to practice nonverbal YES & NO.

How to use book activities to teach a child to say NO!

This book game teaches calling, saying "no", scolding, and calming down after pretending the animal bites. For more games like this, go to