How to utilise visual supports to support your child's independence
What are visual supports?
Visual supports are cues that provide information about an activity, routine or expectation. These can be effective to address social, communication, behavioural, play, cognitive, school-readiness, academic, motor, and adaptive skills.
There are two main purposes of visual supports: 1) to help others communicate better with an individual with communication difficulties, and 2) to improve the child’s ability to communicate with others.
They can be utilised to assist an individual in a range of different areas. This can include supporting their planning and organisational skills, providing structure around routines and assisting transitions, teaching new routines and skills, and offer choice and independence in decision making.
Visual supports are simple, but can have huge positive impacts on an individual’s independence and confidence when completing every day activities.
What do visual supports look like?
Visual supports come in a variety of different forms. This could include photographs, drawings, words, and schedules.
Here are some examples:
How you can use them with your child
Visual supports may be created by health professionals (Occupational Therapists, Speech Pathologists, or Psychologists), teachers, or by their caregivers. Here are some examples of how visual supports can be formatted and what they can be used for:
Visual schedules are a visual representation of the activities and tasks that your child is expected to complete or participate in throughout the day. This can be great to assist the transition between activities, and to teach children tasks that have multiple steps such as getting ready for school.
First and then:
First and then schedules consist of a picture of a non preferred activity (for example, completing homework) followed by a preferred activity (such as computer time). It clearly outlines expectations of what you would like your child to complete first, then provides positive reinforcement through a preferred task second.
An activity sequence breaks down the individual steps of a task that your child may find difficult to complete, such as going to the toilet. The activity sequence is usually placed close to where the task is completed so the child can refer to it throughout the process. For example, an activity sequence to break down the steps for using the toilet, like the one below, might be placed on the back of the toilet door.
Visual supports are a great tool you can use at home, school and the community to support your child in so many different areas!