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Visual Support Strategies for Autistic Children: Tools, Tips, and Resources for Enhanced Communication and Routine Management

Visual Support Strategies for Autistic Children: Tools, Tips, and Resources for Enhanced Communication and Routine Management

Visual supports are tools and aids that use visual cues, such as images, symbols, charts, or written words, to enhance communication, understanding, and organization for individuals, including autistic children. These supports can provide a visual representation of information, routines, and expectations, helping to promote independence, reduce anxiety, and improve comprehension.

Visual supports come in various forms, including visual schedules, social stories, choice boards, visual timers, and visual aids for communication. They can be customized to suit the individual's specific needs and preferences. By utilizing visual supports, important information and instructions become more tangible, predictable, and easily accessible, aiding in comprehension, self-regulation, and successful participation in daily activities.

Here are some examples of visual tips and tools that can be beneficial for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD):

  1. Visual Schedules: Create a visual schedule using pictures, symbols, or words to outline the daily routine and activities. This provides a clear visual representation of what will happen and helps the child understand and anticipate upcoming events. Find some visual schedule templates on the Consistency Blog.

  2. Social Stories: Develop social stories using visuals and simple language to explain social situations, expected behaviors, and appropriate responses. Social stories help children with ASD navigate social interactions and understand social cues.

  3. Choice Boards: Use a choice board with pictures or words to provide options and empower the child to make choices. This can be helpful during activities such as mealtime, playtime, or selecting preferred tasks.

  4. Visual Timers: Utilize visual timers, such as sand timers or digital timers with visual displays, to help the child understand the concept of time and manage transitions between activities. The visual representation of time passing can ease anxiety and aid in transitioning.

  5. First-Then Boards: Use a first-then board to visually represent the sequence of tasks or activities. This helps the child understand what needs to be done first before moving on to the preferred activity, providing structure and motivation.

  6. Visual Supports for Communication: Implement visual supports for communication, such as visual choice cards, PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System), or communication boards. These tools can aid in expressive and receptive communication, allowing the child to express their needs, wants, and thoughts.

  7. Visual Cue Cards: Create visual cue cards with pictures or symbols to represent specific instructions or reminders, such as "quiet voice," "wait," or "take a break." These visual cues help reinforce desired behaviors and promote understanding.

  8. Visual Aids for Emotions: Use visual aids, such as emotion charts or facial expression cards, to help the child recognize and understand different emotions. This supports emotional literacy and communication about feelings.

  9. Visual Supports for Sensory Regulation: Provide visual supports for sensory regulation, such as a "calm down" corner or sensory choice board. These tools help the child identify and select sensory strategies that can help them self-regulate and manage sensory challenges.

  10. Visual Organization Tools: Implement visual organization tools, such as labeled bins or visual labels for belongings, to promote organization and independence in daily routines.

 Here are some links to some tools:

Visual Schedule,Choice Boards, & First-Then Boards:

Magnetic 153 Card Visual Schedule

The SchKIDules Visual Schedule for Kids is a magnet collection box set with 132 activity icons and 21 headings. It supports children with special needs, autism, and behavioral challenges by providing visual schedules for improved organization, structure, and independence.

Weekly Planner Wall Chart

This visual board aids in promoting structure, routine, and time management skills for children. It allows them to visually comprehend and anticipate their weekly activities, tasks, and events. By utilizing visual symbols, the planner supports communication, independence, and cognitive development.

Now Next Later Board

The Now Next Later Board Chart is a visual tool designed for children with ADHD, ASD, and autism. It helps them understand and follow routines by using visual symbol cards. The chart has three sections: Now, Next, and Later, where cards representing activities are placed. With 32 symbol cards included, children can anticipate and organize their tasks, promoting independence and reducing anxiety during transitions.

Social Stories:

Mood Flipbook For Kids

The Original Mood Flipbook for Kids is a resource designed to help children, including those with ASD or ADHD, identify and understand different emotions and moods. It features colorful monster characters representing 20 emotions, allowing children to develop emotional awareness and make positive choices. The laminated pages ensure durability for long-term use.

Story Clue Cards

SkillEase Story Cues Skilled Sequencing Cards are speech therapy materials designed to support children, including those with ASD, in areas such as storytelling, questions, articulation, and sentence building. These visual cards enhance language development and social interactions, providing a structured framework for language skills and communication.

 A Little Spot of Feelings 8 Book Set

A Little SPOT of Emotion 8 Book Box Set is a collection of books designed to help children, including those with ASD, explore and understand different emotions. The set focuses on emotions such as anger, anxiety, peacefulness, happiness, sadness, confidence, love, and expression. These books promote emotional intelligence, empathy, and healthy emotional expression.

 Visual Timers:

 60-Minute Visual Countdown Timer

The Secura 60-Minute Visual Countdown Timer is a durable mechanical timer designed to support individuals, particularly those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). With its big display and visual countdown, it helps individuals with ASD manage time, transitions, and focus. This timer promotes structure, reduces anxiety, and improves time-related skills for individuals with ASD.

Visual Supports for Communication, Visual Cue Cards, & Visual Aids for Emotions:

My Communication Cards

Special Needs My Communication Cards are a set of 27 flashcards specifically designed for individuals with special needs, including those with autism, speech delay, and non-verbal communication. These cards serve as visual aids or cue cards to support communication and understanding. Each card features a clear visual representation of a word, concept, or action, enabling individuals to express their needs, wants, and emotions effectively

Communication Book

The Smile4autism Visual Communication Book is a comprehensive tool designed for individuals on the autism spectrum. It contains 162 ASD plastic icon cards that cover a wide range of vocabulary, supporting language development and speech articulation therapy.

Visual Organization Tools:

Cube Storage Baskets For Organizing

The Cube Storage Baskets for Organizing come in a set of 8, offering a convenient and practical solution for storage and organization. Measuring 11 inches each, these heavy-duty storage cubes are designed to fit perfectly in cubby storage boxes or cube storage organizers.

Plastic Storage Container 20ct

The IRIS USA 5.9 Qt. Plastic Storage Container Bin is a pack of 20 stackable storage boxes designed for versatile organization. With a latching lid, these containers securely store items while allowing easy access. Ideal for organizing shoes, closet items, school supplies, or art materials, these clear bins provide visibility and efficient storage solutions for various needs.

Toy Storage Organizer with 12 Plastic Bins

The Humble Crew Kids' Toy Storage Organizer is a practical and stylish solution for keeping toys and belongings organized. It features a sturdy frame in a natural wood finish with vibrant primary-colored plastic bins. The organizer comes with 12 removable bins in various sizes, providing ample storage space for toys, books, art supplies, and more.