“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.
23 Free printable Visual Schedules for Home and Daily RoutinesAFFIRM Autism Focused Intervention Resources and Modules- Visual SupportsCenter for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies: Resources Across the Lifespan – Visual Supports Learning Links and Templates
This group of resources includes a Visual Supports Checklist, links to other websites with strategies for visual supports and tips on creating your own visual supports.Center for Inclusive Child Care (CICC): Visual Supports
ConnectAbility: Visual Supports
The Use of Visual Supports in Early Care and Education Programs: While visual supports have been found to successfully support children with autism spectrum disorder and other special needs, why would an early care and education professional choose to use them with children who are developing as expected? The following are some of the ways in which visual supports can be used to benefit all young children regardless of ability.
Head Start ECLKC: Classroom Visuals and 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 Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center (ECLKC) offers a library of visual supports for teachers to use with children in the classroom. Look for illustrations of toys, art materials, daily schedule pictures, problem-solving cue cards, and classroom certificates, to name just a few. Each one can be downloaded and printed out for immediate use.
Head Start ECLKC: Social Stories
Head Start Inclusion Classroom Visuals and Supports
Children who have difficulties with social interactions often have trouble interpreting social situations and responding appropriately. The Head Start Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center (ECLKC) Social Stories™, developed by Carol Gray, help children understand the events and expectations in their lives.
The Head Start Center for Inclusion (HSCI) offers a library of one-page Social Stories™ that can be downloaded, printed out, and customized for immediate use. Teachers and parents may also use these as a template to write their own stories that meet a child’s individual needs.
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.National Center on Pyramid Model Innovations (NCPMI) Visual Supports
North Star Paths: Free Downloadable Visuals and Graphics
Visual Supports for Routines, Schedules, and Transitions (PDF)
Visual supports can help children learn new skills and prevent challenging behavior. Visuals help young children learn and follow routines by helping them understand what is happening “now” and what is going to happen “next.” Visuals serve as reminders for verbal directions and help children know exactly what is expected of them.
Transition Visual Cards (PDF)
Transitions occur when children move from one activity to another. For some young children, moving from one activity to another (e.g., bus to classroom, centers to circle time, art time to lunch) results in confusion, frustration, and/ or challenging behaviors. Planning for transitions includes developing routines and teaching children what to expect during the transition. Transition routines help to prepare children for transitions, engages them in the change that is taking place, and helps them to move smoothly to the next activity. When children are able to participate in or lead the transition, they are excited and eager to move to a new activity. The more children can predict and participate in the schedule and activities of the day, the less likely it is that challenging behavior will occur and the more likely it is they will engage in transitions.
Solution Kit Home Edition (PDF)
Supporting Positive and Possible FuturesSesame Street Routine Cards
Sesame Street offers a FREE tool for families that includes a narrated slide show and downloadable Routine Cards to help children learn the different steps involved in everyday activities such as teeth-brushing, going the dentist, getting a haircut, and many more activities.
Technical Assistance Center on Social and Emotional Intervention (TACSEI): Teaching Tools for Young Children: Folder 5 Visual Strategies
University of Florida Center for Autism and Related Disabilities: Visual Supports
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.
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.