Visual Supports In The Classroom

Monday, March 22nd, 2021

By Julie Aills, M.S., CCC-SLP

One of our wonderful and talented speech therapists, Danielle Nader, was a presenter at OCALICON this year. OCALICON is a 3- day conference for related professionals and families of individuals with autism, sensory disabilities, and low-incidence disabilities. One of Danielle’s presentations focused on the importance of using visuals aids in the classroom. Here are some highlights and key takeaways from her presentation!

WHAT are visuals supports?

Visual supports are things that we see that enhance the communication process

WHY should visual supports be used in the classroom?

So much of communication is non-verbal….meaning it’s visual! Gestures, facial expressions, body movement and objects in the environment.

  • Portray expectations and teach routines. Visuals schedules allow children to predict and anticipate what will happen.
  • Teach positive behaviors or new skills. Visuals can teach vocabulary, sequencing and cause and effect.
  • Empower children to learn. Using visuals as a way to teach children how to make a choice EMPOWERS the child.
  • Choices provide an opportunity to communicate when a child might not have the words.
  • Helps teachers and teams run a more efficient classroom. Visuals can have a big impact on teachers and classroom efficiency! They reduce the need to repeat verbal directions, increase the time students stay on task and improve classroom management
HOW can visual supports be used in the classroom?
  • Visual schedules: Can be used for schedules (what is going to happen throughout the day) and routines (the “in between” steps to get you from one task to another)
  • First-then boards: Can be used to manage behaviors (e.g. first clean up, then outside), teach a sequence (e.g. first soap then water) or teach a new skill (e.g. setting the table)
  • Making Choices: Make sure to follow through with the child’s choice, even if it seems the choice was made by accident!
  • Managing behaviors and expectations: Teaching acceptable vs. unacceptable behaviors within routines in a way that is not disruptive to the rest of the class