Use visuals consistently. Yes, I know you KNOW this already!
Do you consistently do it? Does the practice of visual schedules, checklists, to do lists, graphic organizers and detailed written instructions of steps REALLY stretch past October? 😳
Do you find yourself constantly thinking about how you can make what you say, visual? Then you are on the right track!!
Using these tools is an absolute, non- negotiable must for our students on the autism spectrum. If you find they ‘don’t work’ or ‘you have tried that’ then I promise you; you need to find a different way to use them or you need to incorporate the student in making them and implementing them. To give up using visuals is akin to rationalizing that a person who has no use of his legs has no real need for a wheel chair!
Visuals can vary from written words to pictures, photos, objects and product samples to a combination of supports. The following are a sample of some useful visual supports:
A daily schedule that lists events/things to do or activities/changes in routine
A schedule that lists activities or steps of a specific time of day (if morning routine causes behaviour problems a schedule will help)
A key ring with visual reminders of social rules (Personal space, gentle hands, quiet voice, waiting in line etc…
Checklists of tasks to complete and a place to indicate when are tasks completed
Checklists outlining the sequence of steps to complete a task (washing dishes, completing an assignment, cleaning a desk, handing work in, laundry, using appliances or computers, etc…)
Checklists of materials needed (packing a swim bag, packing a lunch, packing homework or materials for a class)
A pocket size relaxation booklet
Labels to indicate name and location of objects (drawers for clothing, hygiene materials, cupboards, pencils, notebooks, library center, etc…)
At the risk of repeating myself…okay, nagging, I beg teachers and parents to implement visual schedules, checklists, first/then boards etc in their homes and classrooms. A word of caution: the child may initially reject this strategy at first. Some children do. This is NOT a sign that you should stop using schedules; it may be a generalization issue. The child may not want the school tools at home or vice versa. Do not waver. Be consistent and reward your child for using the schedule! It will become your lifesaver!
Remember, you don’t have to be an autism expert. It is your compassion and determination to make your classroom a safe and autism friendly environment that makes ALL the DIFFERENCE!