Autism Pages: Talking Buttons

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Tahirih Bushey has no comercial interest in these products or any other products discussed on the site.  These products are on the site because I have found them useful.


Talking Symbols

Talking Button



  • Easier to activate. 
    The child activates by pushing on the picture. Some children find it easy to learn, while other children do not have the ability to isolate one finger and push on a small button. 
  • Has a magnet on the back. This makes it easy to make up an array of several buttons.


Go Talk One


  • Turns off! Easier to pack in purse or pocket because it won't keep going off.
  • Sold as a single button so it is easier to buy four of them (the right number for my game).

By Tahirih Bushey M.A.C.C.C.
Speech & Language Pathologist


more tips for parents 

What are Talking Buttons?

Talking Buttons are devices that hold a little single message recording.  These gadgets have a spot where you can place a photo so that the child and parent can remember what is recorded on the button.  The button is intended to help children who cannot talk or who forget how to say things.  The button allows the child to communicate verbally. 

Why use a Talking Button?

Talking Buttons make it easier to teach new games.  The child does not need to talk because he or she can simply push a button.

After the child pushes the button, you act as though the child had said the words.  If the button said the words "truck, please" then you say "OK, let's get the truck down and play truck." 

If your child is not yet talking at all, Talking Buttons make it possible for your child to communicate verbally during  games (and at other times).  If you child is talking but does not know how to use words to communicate some messages, the talking button helps your child learn how to say something new.

What kind of a message would you record?

Depending upon the game or activity, you can record a single word, a short phrase, or a whole paragraph.  You might want to enable your child to call someone ("MOM!"), tell someone to do  something ("Go away!"), express an emotion ("I am mad"), complain ("Too loud!"), agree ("Yes!") or disagree ("No!").  You might want your child to be able to tell grandma about a zoo trip ("Grandma, I went to the zoo.  I saw a tiger.  It was fun!").

Why a Talking Button instead of a picture symbol?

I highly recommend the using picture choice boards to help your child request food, toys, and games.

But I have found that children like to say things like "Yuck!" "I need a break!" "Mommy, where are you?" "This is SCARY!"  None of these things can be said well with a picture. Because much of the message is communicated in the voice, children like using a button to say these things.  It is easier to get others to listen to a voice message.

Talking Buttons make communication easy!

If your child can talk, but does not remember how to say new things, Talking Buttons make the talking part so easy that your child will participate in new games more quickly. 

I even use them for children who tend to refuse to participate in new games.   Almost no child refuses to push a Talking Button. 

Won't My Child Outgrow These Quickly? 

After your child grows out of using Talking Buttons for talking, you can use the buttons to post reminders to your child about things like "Wash hands after you go Potty!" or "Tell Daddy hello when he gets home today!" 

These reminders are will spare you from having to tell your child the same thing over and over.  Also, children with ASD tend to want to follow directions heard on a Talking Button.

I have also sent a Talking Button to school with children who become anxious away from mom or dad.  I have sent these buttons with the child to a weekend visit to grandma's house.  I have sent these buttons to bed with children who get up at night.  Mom might put a picture of herself on the button and record something like "Mom will see you at 3:15 today.  I love you."

Which button should you buy?

Each of these buttons has advantages.  Please read the sidebar and/or ask your child's Speech and Language Pathologist or Occupational Therapist for recommendations.

One more tip for easy use

If you are already using some kind of a picture symbol system with your child and have lots of pictures laminated and with Velcro® on the back, you can put a piece of Velcro® on the picture part of the frame.  This way you can change pictures quickly, rather than trying to slip a picture in the plastic sleeve all the time. 

If you are not using laminated pictures, you may still want to just use double back tape to put pictures on the device. Without some way for putting the picture on the outside of the button, changing pictures takes too long.  It is often possible, particularly with children who are talking, to simply use a button with no picture on it to introduce a new word or short phrase.  For example, the button can say "Yikes!" whenever blocks fall over in a block stacking game.  You don't need a picture to introduce this new comment word.