We are living in an unprecedented time in which the entire world suddenly has to adapt to a new way of living their daily life to remain safe and healthy, and to keep others safe and healthy. The USA’s CDC has posted guidelines for people to follow for best practice. Many of our children, particularly those with special needs and those on the Autism Spectrum, have difficulty understanding verbal directions by themselves. They also may have a strong reaction to changes or transitions from their daily routine. These materials are based on the use of common visual strategy materials used with students who benefit from such materials. The hygiene concepts are based primarily from the guidelines posted on CDC.gov on April 2020.
THE BENEFITS OF VISUAL PICTURE SYMBOL STRATEGIES:
Some students, (especial those with special needs or on the Autism Spectrum) may have difficulty understanding some of the new ideas for health and safety that we are living with at this time. Visual picture materials and schedules can help to make the ideas of these new daily health routines more understandable to students who have difficulty with abstract concepts. A visual schedule breaks down individual tasks into steps that are represented with pictures, which are better understood by those who have stronger visual learning skills. Schedules are a common part of most peoples’ day. Some students may be frustrated because they don’t understand why they have to do certain things, or they may not understand that they will eventually get to do what they really want to do.
Visuals are neutral in tone. Visuals have the added benefit of not having ‘an attitude’ to them like a raised voice may have (which can escalate anxiety). Visuals stay in place as long-lasting reminders, while spoken words are gone after they are said. Visuals can remain as a posted reminder when the caregiver is not present. Visuals can help the student develop independent skills, without relying as much on another person’s direct interventions. The use of a visual schedule can allow for a student to learn to independently follow the routines needed in their day just like everyone else.
Don D’Amore MA CCC-SLP is an experienced certified Speech Language Pathologist that illustrates and customizes visual strategy materials, and who has worked with students with special needs who benefit from these types of visual strategies for more than 25 years. Don is also a member of the advisory board for National Autism Resources.