Partner-Assisted Scanning

Partner-assisted scanning is a communication strategy for students who have a consistent confirmation or rejection of offered choices. This confirmation or rejection can take the form of eye gaze, vocalization, gesture or any combination of these.


To implement partner-assisted scanning, the communication partner presents a range of 2 to 3 options as the student listens to all the options. The communication partner then repeats each option, and waits for the student to confirm or reject the option.

Sample Script:

“What would you like to do for fun? We can play a game, listen to music, or talk to a friend.”

The communication partner may show the student the symbol/object for each option but it is not necessary. The communication partner repeats each option and waits for a confirmation or a rejection from the student.

“Would you like to play a game?” Wait.

“Would you like listen to music?” Wait.

“Would you like a talk to your friends?” Wait.

Wait for the student to confirm or reject. In the video, J. responds to requests about preferences. He looks to the left for confirmation and to the right for rejection. The rejection is a little more subtle than the confirmation.

If the communication partner is unsure of the confirmation/rejection, you can continue or repair the interaction:

“I’m sorry, I didn’t understand. Can we try again?” and offer the option again.

“Oh, I think you want ____________________. Is that right?” < Wait for confirmation >

“Hmm, I’m not sure which one you want, how about let’s play a game; offer the game and wait for behavior reaction and then respond as appropriate.


Partner-assisted scanning is a communication strategy that can be used with students who have a clear confirmation or rejection. Any communication partner can be taught the partner-assisted scanning strategy including and especially peers.


Video of Partner-Assisted Scanning from the Cincinnati Children Pearlman Center