Total Communication


Objects of Reference are objects that are systematically and consistently used with a person to represent people, places, objects and activities. They are used alongside the spoken word.

They can be:-

Whole object – A cup to represent “drink”.

Parts of objects – A piece of a seatbelt to represent “car seat” or “going on a car journey”

 ·         A miniature version of the object – A toy train to represent “A real train”

·         An item that smells, feels, sounds or looks like the actual object, event or person – a small container of perfume specifically used to represent the person that uses it.

·         An item that has no obvious connections to the activity but through using it cautiously and frequently can come to represent the activity – e.g. Lego people to represent school assembly


Objects of Reference can be used to support:-

·         receptive language/understanding

·         memory and sequencing of events

·         signalling the beginning of a new activity

·         choice-making

·         requesting items and activities

·         story-telling and recalling events

·         expressive language

More Information

They should be:-

 ·         relevant to each individual

·         the same objects used on every occasion

·         presented immediately before the event or activity they represent

·         used every time the activity takes place or the person/object is encountered

·         presented in the same way everytime

·         kept near the person during the event it is representing

See below for more information:

Oxfordshire Total Communication – objects –

Communication Matters –

Augmentative & Alternative Communication Special Interest Group

Integrated Treatment Services –

Bradford Tactile Communication Group –