How Visuals Helped My Son On the Autism Spectrum
By Linda Marie Beale
According to research, visuals are an effective tool to communicate with a child who has trouble understanding, talking and requires predictability. It helps parents, teachers and therapists communicate with the child. The child can also use the visuals to communicate with others.
Children on the spectrum process information slower and have difficulty understanding what others are saying. They have rigid inflexible thinking and some children act out due to the increased stress and anxiety. Most children on the spectrum require a consistent predictable routine or schedule. They need simple concrete visual instructions i.e. a visual schedule that is familiar and predictable. One can obtain visual supports from their therapist, school or from the world wide web.
My son, Tyler Beale was diagnosed with Autism in November of 2015 and started Occupational and Speech Therapy straight away. Tyler’s OT requested me to take photographs of specific daily activities and places that we visited frequently. I was instructed on how to use the visual supports to assist with communication. Our OT supplied me with visuals made from her photographs and I made additional visuals at home using 6x4 photographs. I purchased a basic A4 laminator and sheets for less then $50!
Pictures: Tyler playing a game on his Ipad and Tyler wearing his cowboy hat
Tyler used to get very anxious travelling in the car and upon arrival. To minimise his stress, I give him a laminated visual photograph of the place we are going to. In addition, I use the same verbal cues, such as, nanas place, preschool or shopping. Tyler holds onto the laminated photographs while travelling in the car. This gives him time to process the information and prepare for it.
Picture: Laminated cards of daily activities and places that Tyler visits.
Tyler also uses the visuals to communicate with mum and dad about where he would like to go. He has responded very well to the visual aids and it has lead to a significant reduction in stress, anxiety and meltdowns!
Meet the Author:
Linda Marie Beale, is a Hydrotherapist, massage therapist, exercise physiologist and the proud mother of 3 beautiful boys. Tyler, her youngest son, was diagnosed with Autism, global development delay and sensory processing disorder in November of 2015. Linda spends almost 30 hours a week working with her son and doing various activities that help his speech and motor skills. Linda documents her and Tyler’s journey on her Instagram page tylers_autism_journey! Follow her for some great tips and some adorable pictures.