Section A: Description of intervention method
Power Cards are a visually based method that connects an individual’s special interest to
an appropriate behavior or social skill. Power cards capitalize on the narrow and obsessive
interests of people with ASD. The strategy consists of a personalized script and a Power Card.
The Power Card is typically the size of a small note card or business card. It is small enough to
be carried by the person in their pocket or in a notebook that is easily accessible across multiple
settings that serves as a visual prompt for the child to use the new behavioral strategy. The script
is read prior to an event that has been identified as problematic for the child. The following
website provides example of power cards.
Section B: Students for whom this method is designed
Power Cards are primarily used for older elementary children, adolescents, and adults
with Autism or Asperger Syndrome. They are ideal for individuals who feels stress in social
situations, is difficult to motivate, and needs to understand others’ perspective. Reading skills
are necessary and self-awareness needed for the student to identify when they need to use the
Section C: Qualifications for using power cards
No skilled training is necessary for a person to implement Power Cards. Parents, teacher,
related service personnel, paraprofessionals, etc. may make/implement Power Cards. Personnel
who implement Power Cards must know the individual’s interests and what specific
situations/circumstances would benefit from the implementation of a Power Card.
Section D: Cost of method
Power Cards involve very little cost (just the cost of paper and color ink), involve no formal
training, and are not time intensive.
Section E: Potential risks
Potential risks include: individual may not independently utilize the Power Card when
necessary, the individual may get satiated on their special interest area (i.e. the Beatles), and
individuals may lose their Power Card.
Section F: Benefits of Power Cards
Benefits of this intervention include: low cost, uses individuals’ special interest area,
easily portable, relatively simple to create, and can be created by anyone who has a relationship
with the student.
Section G: Settings for power cards
Multiple settings can be appropriate for the use of Power Cards. They are primarily used
in school but could be used at home and other extra-curricular activities (sports, church, etc)
where the individual is experiencing difficulites.
Section H: Fields attitude toward power cards
Professionals are using Power Cards because they seem to be effective with some
individuals (especially those with an intense special interest). Although, there has not been
significant research completed on Power Cards, I feel the field is very open to the use of Power
Cards in the educational setting. I feel the field has an overall positive attitude towards the use
of Power Cards because they have observed the positive effects the use of Power Cards can
Part Two: A review of literature
Davis, K.M., Boon, R.T., Cihak, D.F., & Fore, C. (2009). Power Cards to Improve
Conversational Skills in Adolescents with Asperger Syndrome. Focus on Autism
and Other Developmental Disabilities, 25, 12-19.
Section A: Participants
The participants in the study were three high school male students with diagnoses of
Asperger Syndrome. All students demonstrated basic conversation skills including relevant
response to questions, and all expressed desire to improve peer interaction. These students
participated in general education settings most of the school day, were completing grade-level
requirements for academic classes, and were expected to earn a regular high school diploma.
None of the students had been exposed previously to the Power Cards strategy.
Section B: Research design
A multiple-probe across participants was used to determine the efficacy of Power Cards
for increasing students’ conversational skills. The first phase was baseline and the next phase
was the Power Card intervention, which also included a generalization probe. The introduction
of the Power Card intervention was staggered across students after the previous student reached
Section C: Dependent variables
The dependent variable was speaking about or allowing conversational partners to speak
about their interests. Specific behaviors included: saying the name of the partner, presenting a
question or comment about the partner’s interest, and listening to (allowing the partner to speak
about) their interest while maintaining eye-contact.
Section D: Independent variables
The independent variable was both the Power Card scripts and the Power Card. Both
items linked the conversational behavior to the student’s SIA (special interest area) and included
corresponding visual images. A hero figure that represented each student’s SIA was identified
prior to the Power Card script training. The script explained that his hero was interested in other
people, and he or she had learned to have conversations focused on another’s interest. Power
Cards contained text summarizing the conversation strategy used by the hero
Section E: Summary
The implementation of the Power Card strategy that incorporated the students’ SIA
successfully improved conversation skills for all students. A functional relationship was
established because experimental control occurred by demonstration of a covariation between
change in behavior patterns and introduction of the intervention. More specifically, participant 1
experienced a 352% increase in the amount of time engaged in other-focused conversations,
participant 2 experienced a 300% increase in the amount of time engaged in other-focused
conversations, and participant 3 experienced a 141% increase in the amount of time engaged in