How Pumpkin Carving Sparked A Communication Milestone For Our Nonverbal Teenager

I hope everyone’s had a happy Halloween out there, even if it might be a bit different to usual this year. For me, the most memorable moment of this Halloween week happened on Thursday evening, when Penguin and I were making a start at carving the largest of our pumpkins…

I used his AAC (we have a communication app on ipad, but there are many other forms of AAC, as you can read about in my recent post HERE) to ask him to come to the table, where I’d put the pumpkin and tools for carving. ”I need help”, I said, using his AAC. And Penguin came over to help.

We started by cutting out a lid at the top, both holding the knife together. We had the AAC at hand and I modelled some core words such as “go” and “good”, while we were working. (Core words are words that can be frequently used in lots of different contexts, and it’s generally recommended to have a focus on these words when learning to use AAC, as they can be useful for communicating a great variety of things.)

Once the lid was ready to be lifted, I modelled “open”. Penguin lifted it, looking quite excited at first, then totally disgusted when he saw the stringy innards! I’m not sure what he was expecting, as he was just as disgusted last year.

I said “you don’t like that, do you?!” and used his AAC to model “you do not like”. He looked at me and looked at the disgusting pumpkin guts, and said (using his AAC): 

“Stop helping”

Wow! This is the first time ever that he’s been able to communicate anything like this using language (rather than behaviour)! And he used a two-word combination! Without me prompting it at all, totally on his own initiative!

Until this, he’s only really used single words, to tell me something he wants or to answer me when I’ve asked him something, such as “what’s this?”

This time he used his AAC to communicate a need/wish, to stop doing something which he felt was getting too much for him. That’s huge for us. I hope it’s the first of more to come!


Below are a couple of shots from the drilling that Penguin did later, to turn our pumpkin into a lantern (after I’d emptied all those horrible guts out). Hubby and I helped too, but he made about 12 or so of the holes himself. Perhaps time for some woodwork next…?

And here’s the finished product, with candle inside and reunited with its pumpkin friends:

Thank you so much for reading! Comments and questions are as always very welcome below. Take care and stay safe x


How pumpkin Carving Sparked A Communication Milestone For Our Nonverbal Teenager! #AAC #AlternativeCommunication #Nonverbal #Autism #Halloween #Sensory

Linking up with:

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

29 thoughts on “How Pumpkin Carving Sparked A Communication Milestone For Our Nonverbal Teenager

  1. That is brilliant and well done him. A moment of real achievement. As someone who worked with children with SEN as a nurse I know how important these moments are. That ACC looks like a good tool too! Thanks for sharing with #parentpower

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well done little one, what a massive achievement 🙂 and such a memorable moment too. You’ve also taught me about AAC as I’ve had no idea about this before – how incredible x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah this is so lovely, and exciting, I could feel your emotion redaing it. Also great idea for a pumpkin too, simple but effective, just what I like! Thanks again for sharing at #KidsandKreativity

    Liked by 1 person

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