,

Visual Supports in the Classroom – 30 Ways To Help Students

Do you use visual supports in the classroom?  They can be an excellent learning tool to help students to understand auditory input through visual images.  In special education classrooms, visual supports are often used but ALL STUDENTS can benefit from visual supports and strategies.  Visual supports can be picture images, words, tangible objects or other items to represent directions, routines, verbal requests and more.

Do you use visual supports in the classroom?  They can be an excellent learning tool to help students to understand auditory input through visual images.  In special education classrooms, visual supports are often used but ALL STUDENTS can benefit from visual supports and strategies.  Visual supports can be picture images, words, tangible objects or other items to represent directions, routines, verbal requests and more.

10 Ways to Help ALL Students Using Visual Supports in the Classroom

When visual supports are used for all students it can help with:

  1. Language development
  2. Independence with completing tasks and assignments
  3. Literacy skills
  4. Increasing vocabulary development
  5. Assisting with working memory
  6. Social interaction
  7. Positive behavior
  8. Organizing materials
  9. Time management
  10. Teaching routines

10 Ways to Help INDIVIDUAL Students Using Visual Supports in the Classroom

When visual supports are used for individual students it can help with:

  1. Communication skills
  2. Following specific step by step directions to learn new skills
  3. Sustaining attention and shifting attention
  4. Social skills – helpful to inform children of what they can expect and what is expected of them.
  5. Understanding long directions
  6. Memory skills
  7. Transitions
  8. Expressing and understanding emotions
  9. Self-checking of work
  10. Making choices

5 Ways to Use Visual Supports in the Classroom to Help With Behavior Management

Here are 5 ways to reach a students behavior goals in the classroom using visual supports:

  1. If a student’s goals are related to transitions try using visual supports to create an activity schedule across different tasks.
  2. For goals related to finishing a task, create a step by step activity schedule for the one task from start to finish.
  3. Goals that are related to make a simple choice, use cue cards such as YES or NO or STOP and GO.
  4. Use visual supports in social stories, for goals related to social situations and behavioral expectations.
  5. For goals related to requesting access to an item or activity, use visual supports for choices.  

5 Ways to Use Visual Supports in the Classroom During a Therapy Session

Here are 5 ways to incorporate visual supports during an occupational therapy or physical therapy session.

1. When explaining directions to certain children, you may need to provide a visual strategy or symbol instead of just verbally expressing directions. Many times picture symbols are used for the child to select a choice or to respond but are you providing picture symbols for “receptive” language as well?

response-board-for-therapy-sessions

2. Provide responses appropriate for therapy sessions beyond choice selection. Remember children are frequently performing motor tasks and physical activities during a therapy session. You may need to create picture communication boards that allow the child to express statements such as:

Yes
No
This is fun.
I need a break.
I am in pain.
I need a drink.
I am ready to go.
I want to slow down.
I want to stop.

Get more information on the Response Board for Therapy Sessions.

3. Create picture symbols that relate to a therapy session. You can use a commercially produced product or take photos of objects that you use during a therapy session. Once you create picture symbol cards of these items, you can use them to allow the children to make choices regarding activities.

4. Create a schedule for during the therapy session. Set up a schedule board with parts of therapy session on it such as First This and Then This steps to complete so the child can know what to expect.

5. If you need a child to complete many tasks, try creating visual supports for all the steps in the task. Break the whole project down into simple steps with visuals.

Conclusion on using visual supports in the classroom

There are many ways to use visual supports in the classroom to help all students with attention span, memory, communication, literacy, and behavioral expectations.

Reference:  Kidder, J. E., & McDonnell, A. P. (2017). Visual aids for positive behavior support of young children with autism spectrum disorders. Young exceptional children20(3), 103-116.

Resources for Visual Supports to Use in the Classroom

Visual Supports for Self Regulation and Classroom Participation

Visual Supports: Schedules, Self-Regulation, & Classroom Inclusion includes 283 visuals!  The pictures are color coded, engaging, and easy for children to understand. Visual supports for self-regulation can be pivotal in implementing an IEP in the least restrictive environment. Find out more about this digital document.

Visual Supports for Occupational Therapy can be an extremely helpful tool that almost magically improves engagement and ensures that your treatment sessions are effective.  Visual supports for Occupational Therapy include task cards to be used for a variety of settings including clinic and classroom situations.

Visual Supports for Occupational Therapy can be an extremely helpful tool that almost magically improves engagement and ensures that your treatment sessions are effective.  Visual supports for Occupational Therapy include task cards to be used for a variety of settings including clinic, itinerant, and classroom situations.

Visual supports for Physical Therapy can be an extremely helpful tool that almost magically improves engagement and helps to ensure that treatment sessions are effective. Visual supports for Physical Therapy include task cards to be used for a variety of settings including clinic, itinerant, and classroom situations. 

Do you work with preschool or elementary age children who are non-compliant, non-verbal, or have difficulty with attention? It can be difficult to create the structure and flexibility one needs to make sure every treatment session is joyful and productive. Visual supports for Physical Therapy can be an extremely helpful tool that almost magically improves engagement and helps to ensure that treatment sessions are effective. 

Do you use visual supports in the classroom?  They can be an excellent learning tool to help students to understand auditory input through visual images.  In special education classrooms, visual supports are often used but ALL STUDENTS can benefit from visual supports and strategies.  Visual supports can be picture images, words, tangible objects or other items to represent directions, routines, verbal requests and more.