Kids are awesome! Even when they are very small they are tiny people with their own minds and personalities. (Dylan Moran put it best when he described them as midget drunks) Unfortunately sometimes this can get complicated when their needs outstrip their ability to communicate. My son is a very independent three year old however he doesn't always have the words for the situation he's in and this leads to tears and frustration (and a lot of nrrrrrrr!) so I made an easy to carry book of flashcards that can be customised to the situation and needs of your child.
--Disclaimer-- I am not a SALT qualified professional but a parent of a child with a speech/developmental delay (which later was diagnosed as being tied to an Autistic spectrum condition) This is no substitute for seeking professional help, just something that I have found useful.
Step 1: Materials
File divider type wallet for putting your images in - This was a folder-type divider with no internal hardware for mounting plastic pockets, instead it was intended for loose paper and everything is held in place by an elastic cord that wraps around the two outer corners.
Everything your child could conceivably want! - Only kidding, start on the basics, the things that your kid needs and uses on a daily basis as well as things that you are working on introducing into their life.
Laminator and Laminating pouches
Scissors or other method for cutting your pictures out. (I used a guillotine)
Card for printing - make sure that this will pass through your printer *before* you try printing your first batch. 210 gsm seems to be the maximum for a lot of printers. You can get away with just using standard printer paper as the images will be laminated afterwards.
-- Optional --
Photography Cube - this is helpful for keeping the background and lighting consistent (I happened to have one of these already)
Anglepoise lamps or other suitable light source.
-- Not pictured --
Camera - anything will do. The best camera you have is the one on you.
Printer - you can go ahead an use a printing service instead
Laptop - I have GIMP installed (www.gimp.org) as it is a free, open source photo manipulation program that can be used on most machines. To speed up going through the photo editing having a batch-processing plugin such as BIMP or David's Batch Processing Tool is also required. The other software we will be using is Irfanview (www.irfanview.com) to produce multiple images on one sheets with a lot more control than using the built in windows print manager.
Step 2: Camera Time!
Now it's time to take photos of all the objects you have gathered. I grouped mine into categories: Food & Drink, Clothing, Daily tasks, Toys & Activities. I found it helpful to make a list of everything so I could tick alongside each when I had photographed them and wrote the image file name alongside when I was editing them.
When taking the photos, be sure to use lots of light (several light sources are preferable) and to not get in between the light source and the object to avoid casting a shadow over it. Try to photograph the object on a plain background to help with recognition and making editing a breeze. I used a photography cube for the majority but you can get the same effect by using a bed sheet as a background.
Step 3: Editing
When you have got your photos off the camera and onto the computer it pays to check through them first to make sure you have all your objects and that everything is in focus. It is easier to get everything done in one go (yaaay batch processing!) then to have to re-do the computerised tasks for one or two items later because you missed them.
Put the images you want into a separate folder and then run the batch processor with this folder set as the starting location. I usually just add auto levels (colour correction) and then resize the images to smaller than the originals as I'm using a fair decent digital camera and the source images are huuuge. You could even rename the images but as they are going to be printed and not used for anything else I usually don't bother.
Check your images when the batch processor has finished to make sure it's not done anything silly. If your originals need more clearing up and correction then you can edit them individually and there are a vast amount of tutorials on how to do this out on the internet, but it isn't the focus of this 'ible.
Step 4: Printing
Now we're going to use Irfanview to make a contact sheet of the pictures. This gives us a lot more control to print all of our images at the same size than trying to use the built in windows print wizard that cannot specify exact size.
Open the folder in Irfanview and select the images you want to print. Right clicking and selecting "Create contact sheet from selected files..." will bring up the dialog box in the second image. Input your page size (it has A3, A4 and letter sized paper already as defaults) and then select how many columns and rows of images you want per sheet (I went for 2x4). Also make sure that the "write file infos" box is unticked (otherwise it will print the filenames, taking up space) and that the output is set to "Print all Pages". You can also edit the space between the images by changing the amount of pixels in the "Thumbnail Spacing" box at the bottom left.
Make sure you have your card loaded and the printer feeding from the right source (if you have one with a selector) to avoid wasting ink and then hit print, another dialog box will come up with your print settings and if everything is correct then you are ready to press print again.
Step 5: Laminating and Cutting
Take your prints and put them in laminating pouches and pass through the Laminator when it has warmed up. It pays to be careful with getting the sheet right into the top edge of the pouch to avoid there being any part that doesn't get covered by the plastic.
Wait for your sheets to cool and then cut them out using your preferred method (being careful as always). For extra durability pass the cut cards through the laminator again to smooth out the cut edges and prevent the plastic from peeling off too easily.
Step 6: Finished!
Take a small blob of tack and stick it to the middle of each of the cards on the reverse. You can then layout the pages to your choosing (I like to keep them in the groups I made in the list previously).
From using it with my son I've found that having a empty page at the back helpful as you can put a small selection of choices for things such as breakfast or activities that you are prepared for and then asking which one the child would like (We were also using a small amount of Makaton at the time so I would offer the page and the "which" sign too) Pointing at the images and saying their names helps and is further reinforced with repeating the name when the child has chosen.
Seb found the book useful (definitely a lot less frustration and "Nrrrr!") and even started taking the book off me and rummaging through for the object that he wanted. Usually biscuits :p