Break cards act as the voice for the learner in the moment to use instead of engaging in a challenging behavior to get out of taking part in an activity. Break cards are a great tool for functional communication.



Break cards are used in situations when working with students who may become frustrated easily, who need a break but do not know how to ask for a break,  who are displaying challenging behaviors to get out of a task or activity, and/or may be used as a reward for a token system.



The learner may indicate the need for a break with the break card in any mode - touching, pointing to, taking off and handing it to an adult, or by simply holding it up.
Make sure you are modeling the verbals for the request when the learner indicates the need for a break using a break card, i.e. “I need a break” or “break please”.

1. Show the learner the break card and explain to them what is used for. Make sure the break card is in a location that is easily accessible.
2. The moment the learner begins to display behaviors consistent with needing a break, touch, point to, or pick up the break card and tell them, “let’s take a break” or “I see you are frustrated, let’s take a break”
3. Give the learner a break. When first using a break card honor every request.
4. As the learner becomes more consistent in using the break card independently, begin to extend the time between breaks or limit the number of breaks the learner may use - limit the number of breaks with
caution -


*Try to help the student identify the behaviors they are displaying that may indicate they need a break
*This same process can be used for a “HELP” card
*For older students they may want to use a signal instead of a break card