Here is How and Why to Use Visuals

Here is How and Why to Use Visuals

How and Why to Use Visuals

Visuals include real objects, parts of objects or remnants (e.g. empty packet of sultanas), photographs of the actual object, photographs of similar objects, drawings, computer generated symbols (e.g. Boardmaker, Pics for PECS) and written words. Your child’s age and ability will be the determining factor when deciding what type of visual support to use.

Why Use Visuals?

  • Most children with autism spectrum disorder have strengths in visual areas compared to other areas.
  • Up to 80% of families have their child’s (with autism spectrum disorder) hearing test first because of delays in language development. Children with ASD can hear but they can’t process verbal language.
  • A symbol or picture remains constant long after the word or sign has been completed.

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How to Use Visuals

  • Always couple visuals with speech. They are an aid to help you understand spoken language, not a substitute.
  • Be eclectic. You do not need to only use one type of visual.
  • Always print the name of the visual, to ensure consistent language (is it a mug or a cup?) and to aid in long term literacy.
  • To be valuable visuals must be accessible. Keep them near where you are likely to use them –sticking the finish symbol on the door frame in every room means one is always available.

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Excerpt from “The Early Years”, page 19, 20.


A picture is worth 1000 words!


How many horses do you see in the picture below?

There are at least six! Roll up a piece of paper and try looking at the picture through the tube. This is how people with ASD observe their environment as they have what we call ‘Weak Central Coherence’ – remarkably good at attending to detail but appear to have considerable difficulty perceiving and understanding the overall picture or gist.

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Great Visual Resources

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