Inferencing is a term that is familiar to speech therapists and teachers. It means understanding information that is inferred or not directly stated. Let’s take an example. Look at the picture above and see if you can work out what has happened.
When you see the picture, you are able to pull all the pieces together and infer what has happened. You use your prior knowledge that dogs like to chew things. You find the clues in the picture; the dog, the damaged wooden door and the pieces of wood on the floor. You probably didn’t even need to consciously think about the inferences you made about the picture.
The ability to make assumptions and draw conclusions about things we see is essential for social skills and daily problem-solving. We use inferencing all the time but it is in actually a very complex skill. Children with learning difficulties, children with autism and adults who have had a right hemisphere stroke or brain injury often have difficulty with this sort of understanding.
Pictures of real-life situations such as the one above are ideal for working on inferencing skills. This is why we made the Inference Pics app. It is the perfect therapy resource for working on inferencing.
How to Teach Inferencing Using Pictures
Activity 1: What has happened?:
Choose the What has happened? activity in the Inference Pics app. Show the first picture to the child. Ask the child what they think has happened. Explain to the child what an inference is. For example you could say “an inference is when we find clues in the picture and combine them with our background knowledge. This helps us to make an assumption about what has happened”.
Show the child the picture again and talk through the inference that was made. For example, in the example above, you would explain to the child that the inference is that the dog damaged the door. You figured that out because you used the clues from the picture (the damage on the wooden door, the pieces of wood on the floor, the dog standing near the door) and combined that with your background knowledge that dogs like to chew things.
Talk the child through several examples like that by looking at the other available pictures in the Inference Pics app together until the child can identify the two pieces that contribute to the inference on his or her own.
Inference Pics includes over 200 pictures in 7 activities with a variety of inferencing questions.
Activity 1: What has happened?
Describe the picture, infer what has happened and explain how you know.
Activity 2: Jobs
Look at the person in the picture, infer what their job is and explain how you know.
Activity 3: Places
Describe the picture and infer where it was taken. Explain how you know.
Activity 4: Seasons
Describe the picture, infer what time of year it is and explain how you know.
Activity 5 : Feelings
Infer how the person is feeling and say how you can tell.
Activity 6: Thoughts
Infer what the person may be thinking and say how you know.
Activity 7 Conversations
Infer what the person may be saying and explain how you know.
Each picture scene is different and some may be easy for the child while others may be much harder. Their ability to draw inferences will depend on their prior knowledge, and the number of clues which they can find. Remember to encourage the child to be a detective and to find all the clues.
Activities 5, 6, and 7 (Feelings, Conversations and Thoughts) are likely to be the hardest as they require the child to recognise emotions and see things from the perspective of the person in the picture. Support the child to understand the clues in the picture such as facial expression and body language.
Inference Pics is available to download from the Google Play Store and the AppStore.