Visual Supports and Practical Tools
What are visual supports? Visual supports are tools often utilized with individuals with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to add structure and organization to their environment, as well as provide proactive behavior supports.
Why do we utilize visual supports? Therefore, the use of visual tools can help promote learning and independence by clarifying expectations for the individual and creating structure to their day.
Why is visual information much easier for individuals with an ASD to process? Visual structure and tools help create predictability and structure in environments that can be overly stimulating with visual, auditory, tactile, and other sensory stimulation occurring at once. In such busy environments, individuals on the spectrum may attempt to create their own structure, predictability, and calm themselves by engaging in repetitive or stereotypical behaviors and/or insisting on sameness. Visual information helps provide salient, orderly, and predictable information as to what is expected of the individual while also allowing for the flexibility to accommodate to change. The information that individuals need to function is accessible to allow longer processing time and makes them less dependent on the prompts (as opposed to verbal instructions).
Can all individuals benefit? Even individuals who are highly verbal and intelligent have benefited from utilizing visual strategies. Moreover, these visuals can be adapted over time to accommodate particular interests, abilities, and functional levels.
When can we discontinue the use of visuals? Oftentimes, visual structure is only considered during times of transition and behavioral difficulty and opted out, once the problematic situation is over. This is much like pulling away someone’s security blanket, sending an individual into turmoil. If visual strategies are tailored to each specific individual, they will function as a calming tool. Visual structure should be considered for use in those situations where individuals need adult support to complete an activity, when there is difficulty understanding expectations, and when behaviors, anxiety, or frustration tend to occur. The type and format of the support may change as a person ages and learns new skills.
How to utilize this collection of templates for visual supports? Utilizing this book is easy. First, read about the strategy and how to apply it. Then, copy the support or create your own based on the templates/suggestions. Finally, use it!
Best Practices & Strategies
Social Skills Supports
Autism Info Card
Most families of individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have times in public settings when the individual with an ASD is engaging in negative behaviors. Some families like to take those opportunities to educate the people around them about ASDs. The Autism Information Cards are designed to fit into a wallet so they can be taken anywhere. The cards can then be passed out to various people in the community when a family member feels it is important and/or appropriate to provide the community members with a better understanding of autism spectrum disorders. Oftentimes, these situations will arise when the family is addressing behavior difficulties in a public place and feel that other people are watching and/or judging them.
Autism Information Card