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Visual Resources

The importance of using visual resources when working or caring for children with autism. 

By BEATA BEDNARSKA

Hi my friends,

I must say that I was etching to write about this for a long time. When supporting a person with autism IT IS NECESSARY to use visual resources.

So, what is it?

Pictures, symbols, schedules, calendars, diaries, to-do-lists, charts, social stories, comic strips, drawings, written words, objects, etc.

If you don’t have time to read and you only would like to download my FREE resources then scroll down. At the bottom of the article you will find the link. Simply follow the link. Download the resources. Print them out. Velcro it. Lastly, enjoy using it with your children:-) 

You will also find out plenty of visual examples that I used with my children. 

Few facts :

  • Approximately 65 percent of the population are visual learners
  • The brain processes visual information 60,000 faster than text
  • Visual aids in the classroom improve learning by up to 400 percent

There are several great reasons why you should use visuals. I don’t think this the full list of reasons that we should use visual resources but it will do for now:-)

  1. Make the child’s life more predictable
  2. To explain what is going to happen in specific situations
  3. To teach and develop communication and language skills
  4. To use as a behaviour management tool
  5. To help with transition and support change
  6. To improve child’s functional skills
  7. To reduce anxiety
  8. To teach independence skills and decrease dependency from adults/teachers/therapist/parents 
  9. To learn and teach about the feelings and emotions

Make the child's life more predictable

As adults, we use calendars, diaries or to -do- lists automatically, sometimes even without realising. This helps us to organise ourselves and we feel well prepared. Visual schedules can be really effective in helping children with their organisation for the day. It will give them structure that their needs and put all the tasks in time frame. It helps children to understand what is going to happened today and when.

To explain what is going to happen in specific situations

When working with children with autism it’s important to help them to prepare them in advance to the places that their never been to help them to understand how the place will look like, who will be there or what will happen. Use of pictures, photos, Social stories, drawings or videos would help the child in gaining their understating of specific situations, places.

To teach and develop communication and language skills

Use of pictures or objects it’s one of the best ways to teach children to communicate they needs. By presenting options (in a form of pictures or objects to the child) we can find out what they likes and dislikes are. We can teach children build the sentences and enhance their understanding of written word. By using visual prompts we can prompt their answers and teach them different way of thinking (flexibility).

To use as a behaviour management tool

Using visuals or visual schedules can improve child behaviour. It’s so much better when you can remind the child to check the schedule instead of saying that it’s time for maths when s/he doesn’t like this subject or enjoy recent activity. Visual prompts are more powerful and effective than verbal instructions for children with special needs. You can avoid a lot of stressful situations by this simple resource especially when you are dealing with oppositional defiant disorders. Using  mood/emotions/feelings visuals allow us to understand child better but also you can teach self-regulation techniques. By introducing simple card ‘I request a break’, ‘I’m in red zone’ etc. you can teach socially appropriate skills and avoid child’s overload. Use of reinforcements (individual for the child) it’s the best practice to engage and motivate children to perform tasks that they not cherish as such.

To help with transition and support change

This point links to the all previous points. One of the most difficult thing when working with children with autism is the transition and change. By simple use of social stories, schedules or pictures we can help with the transition. Using objects is one of the easiest transition tool that enable children to switch between the task, places, etc. You can use ‘First and Then’ board when transitioning or more advance one ‘First, next and then’ board. By labelling your physical environment you can help children to know where to go or where to find things. This will help them to develop organisational and independent skills.

To improve child's functional skills

Teaching children to perform basic life skills such as toileting, washing hands, brush teeth, etc. can be done by dividing the task into necessary steps. Then presenting to the child in a form of picture chain. Followed by step by step mastering the deficit skill. Teaching children how to shop, where to seek help when they ill, how to use internet banking, public transport, etc. are only few examples of what functional skills we can teach through the visual support.

To reduce anxiety

Visual resources can be effective tools for helping reduce children anxiety. When we use schedules, pictures, objects, etc. we make their day more predictable. It is really effective for those children who are anxious in anticipation of what will happen next. By using schedules we can also help children to get through the change in more visual/concrete way as cancelling their favourite activities could be extremely challenging. Having sensory objects box (with, of course, the objects that works for the individual child for example: fiddle toys, blankets, special interest objects, ear defenders, etc.) it’s a very effective way of reducing anxiety and regulate themselves. By providing social stories or transition books on anxiety-provoking situations such as visiting people, going to doctor, starting school, trying something new, etc. would reduce the anxiety immensely and will have a huge positive effect on child’s behaviour. 

To teach independence skills and decrease dependency from adults/teachers/therapist/parents 

Organising the environment by dividing and marking the space/area, labelling equipment and providing picture instructions how to use the space or tools will enhance children independence. What is more important it will increase child self-esteem and self-worth and will give them more confidence and joy from performing tasks. Creating individual workstations will allow children to perform familiar taught tasks and provide adults with evidence of their abilities to perform tasks independently. 

To learn and teach about the feelings and emotions

By using visuals, videos, mirrors, etc. we can find out how children feels on the day. We are able to find out if something troubles them or maybe they feel poorly or hungry. We can use all these resources to teach about their own emotions or feelings as well as we can teach about emotions of other people. 

By using visuals, videos, mirrors, etc. we can find out how children feels on the day. We are able to find out if something troubles them or maybe they feel poorly or hungry. We can use all these resources to teach about their own emotions or feelings as well as we can teach about emotions of other people. 

There you’re have it 🙂

To download the FREE Visual Resources – First and Then please follow the link here.

Simply download it, print it out, laminate, add VELCRO and ENJOY.

Until the next time…

Beata

PS: Please feel free to add more reasons of using visual support when we are helping children with autism in the comment box below.

PPS: Don’t forget to subscribe so you never miss my FREEBIES!

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