When a child has low expressive language skills, even children with autism, they most probably have great difficulty with vocabulary including verbage. Remeber, you can't make a sentence without a verb! So if a child doesn't know verbs he/she is never going to make a sentence. He/she will if he/she is taught telegraphic sentences that he/she says all day long. I always start with naming cards from basic categories. I also start with basic categories within basic categories. What I mean is I start with farm animals for the animals category. I don't start with koala beers etc. I build up from there. Pretty soon the students have those mastered and I move up. I go to ocean animals, jungle animals, forest animals etc etc. I also drill with action cards. Again with very basic pictures such as eating and running and move up. Yes, I have tons of cards very well organized. Is it rote naming? Yes but it works. Once you start getting the vocab started the students will start to put words and sentences together spontaneously and their MLU will increase. Will their grammar be perfect? No, usually there are a number of grammatical errors that appear. So you revise the iep and address those issues. Yes, the grammar is usually poor but you work on it. It's frustrating to see students with vocab problems being taught to put together sentences with boards. It's teaching telegraphic speech which they end up with. You can do much better than having a child say "I want...." all day long. Yes, I use boards but it's to address specific grammar errors ONCE the student is putting together a variety of sentence on his/her own spontaneously. I use "I want..." boards but I use it to teach the use of "I" usually instead of using "me want." This is after the child starts to put together sentences spontaneously and it usually is with "me." Children will idle for years and have the same goals on their ieps for years if vocabulary is not addressed properly. I've seen it. It's very sad to go back and see ieps from years back with the same "will put 2 words together" goal. Yes, it's harder with students with autism but I've seen this happen with high functioning children without autism.