My eldest (5) is non verbal and on the autistic spectrum, so using visuals is really important to us. Over time I have come to realise how reliant on visual confirmation my son is and how amazing his visual memory is.
Visuals are a great way to support all young children, particularly those who struggle with language.
So little of our communication is the language that we use. For example my son will know it is time to go out as soon as he sees me start to pack up our bag, or that it is dinner time when I lay the table. Over time I have found that the visuals which are created with my child in mind are always the most effective. Don’t get me wrong we use lots of pre-prepared visuals but for the ones we use regularly we have had to adapt to suit our needs.
I am working on my mum (an artist) to do some visuals we can share, see below.
Using visual aids
Visual aids can be used for many different reasons like now and next boards, schedules and choice boards. There are also different types of visual you could use like objects, photos, symbols or videos. Find out more about the different types of visuals in my post on Using Visuals.
Visuals are also very useful when preparing for trips, days out or appointments. All businesses should think about how they can support their customers on the autistic spectrum. Find out more about using visuals to support customers here.
I also use visuals to support teaching my non verbal son to read by visually matching words, pictures and objects.
Social stories are a great way to explain something to a child and they can easily be tailored to your needs. We have found them very useful for preparation like this one below for haircuts and we are currently using one to prepare for our first flight. Find out more about Social Stories here.
You can buy some great visual books that are designed to support your children for things like visiting the dentist. Suzie Books are a great example.
Picture Exchange Communication System / PECS®
PECS® is an alternative method of communication that we use with my son. It has made a huge difference for us. Using the Picture Exchange Communication method gives my non-verbal son a voice, he can tell me what he needs, make choices and comment on things.
If your child is struggling with functional communication it is well worth looking at PECS. Find out more about PECS here.
I have a post all about making PECS cards which gives you lots of tips on making up visuals, PECS cards and using a laminator.
I would also recommend looking at the following companies who provide symbol systems. They also have some free visuals to download on their websites:
- Boardmaker – https://goboardmaker.com/
- Widget online – https://www.widgit.com/
- PECS UK – https://pecs-unitedkingdom.com/
Tiimo – visual assistive technology
Tiimo is an app designed to improve independence and provide structure to routines. A visual support that is particularly helpful to those with autism and / or ADHD. As a Tiimo ambassador we have been gifted access to the app so that we can share our experiences using it with you. I also receive compensation for my time, however all comments are my own and reflect our honest experience. More information on Tiimo:
- Providing structure and independence with our Tiimo visual schedule
- Marc & Ria’s Tiimo experience
- Tiimo the assitive technoogy that is there when you need it.
Using visual reward systems can be a great way to help motivate some children. It is also helpful to keep visual reminders up around the home for example about washing hands.
Books are another great visual, picture books are a very good way to help cement the meaning of language. At first I struggled to get my son to sit and look at books with me, luckily we have found lots of ways to enjoy books together since. There are some fantastic children’s books for really visual kids and I have included a section on them in my top 100 books for under 5s.
Attention Autism is a really visual activity, it is a great way to support a child visually who is struggling with attention and communication. The stages are designed to be visually stimulation which is brilliant for many kids on the spectrum. Both my kids are always in awe of the stage 2 attention builders.
Think about the games that you play, can they be understood visually? For example Catch It from Goula needs no verbal explantion.
Another fantastic game that plays to visual strengths is Seekers a magnetic scavenger hunt.
I have some toilet training visuals including hand washing.
Here are some other free visuals that you can use:
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