Young boy posing on a large, cement ball“Gavin has been having a tough time this past week with the thought of going back to school. In fact, his little eyes have filled with tears a few times. This can definitely be a tough time for our little ones who are on the autism spectrum. So much change going on- new teacher, new classroom, new friends, new schedule…all things that make my Gavin nervous. As Brandon and I were talking with him this evening about starting first grade he started to get upset, saying that he didn’t want to go. It wasn’t until then that I thought about pulling out his visual schedule from last year. All I can say is wow! What a change in his attitude towards going to school! After going over his schedule, he was instantly excited and said he was ready to start first grade. So glad that my dude is at ease! Wish I would’ve pulled that out sooner!”

This true life story was shared with permission by Laurie Clark staff at WestEd CCFC. Gavin, her grandson, is a first grader included in a regular education classroom. Chelle is Gavin’s mom and Laurie’s daughter. Gavin’s story reminds us that social and emotional needs must be addressed and supported before any learning can take place.

ConnectAbility: Visual Supports

We as adults all rely on visual helpers every day. We use calendars, day timers, street signs, grocery lists, maps, and so on. Using visual cues in our environment allows us to plan, organize, and most of all be independent. Visuals are equally important to children because they are just beginning to learn how things work in the world. This site provides rationale and ideas for practical uses of visual supports. In addition they provide a tool to help you make them and a tip sheet

Head Start Inclusion Classroom Visuals and Supports

To help support teachers in the classroom, we have created an ever-growing library of commonly used pictures and visual supports to help teach and support all of your students. From toys and art materials to daily schedule pictures, to even problem solving pictures and classroom certificates. Even better, by providing all of these visual supports here for you in one place, you can download the ones you need and use them immediately in your classroom.

Technical Assistance Center on Social and Emotional Intervention (TACSEI): Teaching Tools for Young Children: Folder 5 Visual Strategies

This folder begins with the How to Make a Visual Schedule tip sheet, a rationale and key points for using the visual strategies. In addition, there are visual schedules, choice boards, cue cards, and activity sequences. A variety of pictured examples are provided to help teachers develop their own visual supports. The Backpack Connection Series handout, How to Use Visual Schedules to Help Your Child Understand Expectations, provides guidance for families in making and using visual schedules.

University of Florida Center for Autism and Related Disabilities: Visual Supports

Many children with disabilities have strong visual skills, and these strengths can be capitalized on with visual supports. Visual communication tools such as objects, photographs, picture symbols, daily schedules and choice boards can provide the support necessary to greatly improve a child’s understanding and ability to communicate, helping children be more active, independent and successful participants in their lives. This site describes various types of visual supports and how to use them and provides to get you started in building your own.

Link to WestEd Center for Child & Family Studies website

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