People often think that visual cues or supports are only for children who have difficulty understanding or using a language. Most of the time, visual cues are only used in a normal school. However, the reality is, we all use visual cues. We all use them every day without realizing it. However, visual cues or supports are most helpful to children who have ASD (autism spectrum disorder) because most of them are visual learners. Which means they understand more through various forms such as pictures, objects, sign language or text. In Bridging the Gap, we make use of different visual cues and support as this is an effective way learning and communicating with our children.
Where do we use visual cues? Why are they important?
- Help improve social skills and behavior.
Children with ASD may not understand different social cues as they interact with others in daily and routine activities in school. Most of our children might not know when or how to start a conversation or how to respond in a situation. Through visual cues, it helps teach social skills and help children with ASD to use them on different social situations. For example, child A approached child B and asked for his name, we will show a visual cue with wording “My name is…” to child B so he can respond appropriately to child A. Thus, this will help in their social relationships.
In addition to that, we also use visual cues to show them the appropriate behavior in the classroom and during different routine activities. Some of the examples are: sitting nicely, nice hands, quiet mouth, take turns, listening ears, eyes looking, etc.
(These are the visual cues for good behavior in class. This really helps to remind the children how to behave and how to be more attentive.)
(These are just some of the visual cues we use during circle time and routine activities.)
- Help improve communication.
Just like us, we easily get frustrated when someone cannot understand what we are trying to say. What more for kids who cannot use their words in communicating. This is why we use pictures in order for them to communicate their basic needs and wants in school. We also give them different choices so they would know that they can request what they want in the class properly. This also decrease frustration to both teacher and student, and this helps in promoting positive ways to communicate.
(Some of our kids use PECS as a form of communication. For some, they point to the picture to express what they want to say.)
(Food is a high motivator that is why we use this communication board when we want to practice the process of “picture exchange”. Who wouldn’t be motivated with food, right?)
(Our children love to sing as well! We use pictures for them to request what song they want to sing. For verbal kids, we let them read the words while pointing to the pictures.)
- Help with transition and routine.
Most children with ASD feels anxious when there is even a small change in routine. This is because they are scared of unfamiliar situations and this might lead to unwanted tantrums. Visual helps in creating a routine schedule to help them understand what to expect within the day and what will happen next. This will also greatly help to reduce their anxiety. In addition to that, this also help them pay attention to essential details and help them cope with change.
Each of our child has his/her own visual schedule for a day. The type used is depending on their abilities. For readers, they have written schedule. Whereas for children who are more visual, we use pictures for their schedule. This is not only an effective way for our children to finish a certain task but also help increase their independency. From opening bag to taking out of snack box, to starting the day with table work to finishing it with packing of bag; all of these are part of the schedule.
(These visual cues are for our kids to know the steps on how to take off their shoes and put by the designated place properly.)
(Upon going in, we have the next this set of visual cues to remind our children to take out their snack boxes & bottles and place in the green tray before going in the gym.
(After placing their snack boxes and bottles, our children will go to their classrooms to check their visual schedule for the whole day. This will help them know what to expect and what are the things planned for them. They will always look forward to the gym play which is purposely placed at the last so this will serve as their reward after finishing all the tasks.)