3 ways you can use visual supports to help children with autism
Children with autism are visual learners. They have difficulty in understanding spoken language. The reason they are visual learners as visual information lasts longer than spoken language.
Visuals are something we all use in our daily lives to navigate the world around us. We live in a visual rich world. Visual processing is a strength for children with autism. It helps them to understand language, complete familiar routines and complete daily living tasks.
I’m going to list three ways you can use visuals to help your child with autism.
Use of visual schedules.
There are different visual supports you can use with your child with autism. Visual schedules are the type of visual support that can be used. Children with autism love routines and structure.
The visual schedule helps the child understand the order of activities they will be doing during the day so nothing comes as a surprise. It helps to reduce their anxiety and keeps them calm. They also help them during transitions.
There are different kinds of visual schedules available online or you can make your own. we have to teach a child how to use a visual schedule just like any other skill. The goal is for them to become independent in the future so they will be in a better position to navigate their day.
There are different types of visual schedules, a picture schedule, written schedule or object schedule.
When first introducing a visual schedule start with 2 to 3 routines. Show them how are you moving From one activity to another. Include the child To be apart while making the schedule. They have to be individualized for your child.
Use of First and then board.
The first and then the board is a type of simple visual schedule. Most children with autism do not like to engage in non-preferred activities.
So the first and then board is used to show the child first they do the nonpreferred activity and then they will get access to a preferred activity, a toy or something they like.
This helps to develop compliance in your children with autism. We must ensure we follow through Give the child the reinforcer or the reward once they have completed the activity.
Use of visuals to teach self-care skills to kids with autism
Task analysis is the process of breaking down a complex skill into smaller manageable parts. It can be used to teach kids with autism skills which are very complex and involves many steps.
Activities of daily living like brushing teeth, washing hands, taking shower, using the washroom and cleaning up after it are some of the examples of skills that can be taught with household chores
We can teach them by using bathroom visuals. It will help to reduce the amount of prompting the child will need they will be able to look at the visual and follow directions. Like any other skill, we need to teach them the skills. First, practice all the steps with the child a few times till they get comfortable with it.
Then slowly start fading your support this process is called chaining. There are two types of chaining
Forward chaining Where in you help the child to initiate the first step then the parent helps them to complete the rest of the steps.
Backward chaining is your prompt the child to complete all the steps except the last one.
As a child becomes independent then teach them to complete the last two steps and this way teach them the skill until they can complete the skills independently break it. Take it down into small steps so the child can be successful.
Visuals will help our children to be independent build confidence and help them to avoid anxiety and frustration.