Receptive Visual Supports for Children with Autism

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As I mentioned previously, visual skills are often a strength for children with autism. In my ten years of experience working with children with autism, I have seen first hand the benefit that adding picture representation to explanations, descriptions, or instructions can have on a child’s understanding of the material– and by extension, their cooperation and participation in the activity.

Receptive visual supports help a child understand something going on in their world. That ‘something’ might be what to expect throughout their day, how to behave at the dinner table, what their options will be at the fair, or the steps to take to brush their teeth.  When people hear the term visual support, they often think of Social Stories, created by Carol Gray. Social stories are by far the most sought-after visual support type on the web, and the most popular and well-known type of support among families and professionals. Social Stories are a great tool to have in your toolbox when working with children with autism, but they should not be the only tool.

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Visual Supports: A high return on investment for all

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Visual supports. We all use them. In fact, if we didn’t we would all probably be late to meetings, miss our exit on the highway and be wandering around unfamiliar buildings trying to find the right room.

Children with autism and other disabilities rely on visual supports just as much, and sometimes more, than we do. Often visual learning is a strength for children with autism, so putting instructions, schedules, behavior supports, reinforcement, etc. in visual form can help the child process, learn and be successful.

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