Visual learning supports work really well for students with autism. They also support children with other special needs, those who have English as a second language and young children in general – particularly those who are still learning to read.
Most children enjoy looking at the class timetable to see what is planned for each day. I have put together a collection of resources that I find helpful for students who need visual learning support.
1. Task Folders
Task folders are ideal for students with autism because it gets them into a routine with their classwork and it also keeps their work organised for the person who will be working with them. Basically you plan a set number of tasks that you want a student to complete each day. Place one activity into each task folder. The student completes one task and then receives a reward (e.g. ten minutes on the iPad). After the reward the student moves onto the next task. I use up to six task folders per day and have each one labeled as task 1, task 2 etc. Stackable document trays are useful for storing task folders because you can store everything you need in each tray.
I find students respond well to regular rewards throughout the day. A reward choice board works really well. Prior to starting each task ask the student to choose one reward that they want when they complete the task. A simple reward board works well where they have the task they need to complete on the left and the reward they get on the right.
Having a rewards folder can be useful for monitoring a student’s progress throughout the day. In this folder you may like to include things like sticker charts, stamp charts, behaviour charts and so on. I’ve made some certificates and reward charts that directly relate to the completion of task folders. I like the reusable reward chart because it can make receiving a real sticker an extra special reward.
3. Visual Timetable
A visual timetable is great in any classroom for all students. I was advised that desk strip visual timetables are important for children with autism. I like having a small desk strip with a basic daily schedule in addition to a large classroom visual timetable so that all of the students in the class can see what is scheduled for that day. Vertical displays on a whiteboard can work well because students can help tick daily tasks off as they are completed. I found many great labels on the internet but found many didn’t have the same names for subjects that I used in my classroom, so I made a wide variety of editable labels to make customising a classroom visual timetable easy.
4. Emotions and Communication Folders
It’s important to have supports in place that will help children to develop the skills to self regulate their emotions and communication. I was taught how to use a five point scale to help a student in my class to regulate their emotions and found it very helpful. There are many versions available and you can access a variety of free five point scale worksheets made by autism professionals here. I like having an emotions folder which has a five point scale inside in addition to pictures of the different emotions. Having a communication folder is also useful for extending children’s vocabulary and for helping them to speak their message. For example, in the past I have used communication boards to assist non verbal clients with cerebral palsy to communicate. I showed the child two pictures and they used an eye pointing gesture to indicate their choice.
5. Date and Weather Chart
With the use of interactive technologies the future of a handmade date and weather chart might be bleak, but it can still be a useful hands-on tool for discussing the date and weather each morning. I have made a date and weather folder using velcro strips. I find velcro strips tend to be a bit cheaper, especially if you cut them in half and use smaller sized bits of velcro. Each morning students can change the date and weather symbols.
If you prefer an interactive weather chart the free date chart made by ictgames.com is quite good.
6. Resource Links
This pack contains resources to set up folders for tasks, emotions, communication, rewards, timetables, date and weather. It also contains essential visual timetable cards, desk strip and grid visual timetable templates and a wide variety of task cards. There are a wide variety of visual cards included in this pack, including most types of school stationary.
This pack contains a large variety of editable labels and clocks so that you can design your own visual timetable. It allows you to choose your own font and wording.
4. I found this site has a lot of great free printable picture cards for a range of topics such as toileting, safety and clothing.
Here are a few quotes I like that relate to autism.
Sourced from quotessays
Sourced from imgarcade
Sourced from quotessays
Happy teaching! :)
The following articles were recommended to me to share on this page by publichealthcorps.org as an additional resource.
What is Autism?