We know visuals are an effective intervention for our students with autism. We use visuals for communication, labeling items, to assist with receptive language deficits, and for social stories. Our use of visuals seems to focus mainly around communication and behavior management. A major area that we seem to forget about is using visuals with our academic instructions. Many teachers – including me! – mistakenly assume that just because students are verbal that they understand all language. This is where we run into problems!
Just because a student has verbal abilities – that doesn’t mean their expressive language (what they say) matches their receptive language (what they understand). Especially when we are dealing with the difficult subject areas of reading and writing! I have been majorly shown the light on this concept this school year. My writing centers which are completely visual have gone over AMAZINGLY well with my students. I thought they would still be needing a lot of assistance within these centers and many of my babies are already completing these centers independently. And correctly mind you!
So I have been incorporating these visuals into more and more of my academic work. When we do read alouds as a group or during Guided Reading groups, we often do a ‘book walk’ or ‘sneak peek’ (as we like to call it). Basically we preview the book to work on making inferences, identifying text features, answering wh- questions, making predictions, and making text connections. We scroll through the book, read the title, look at pictures, and have a discussion. This has been going really well but not without the help of this trusty visual!
My kids – as many students with autism are – are rule followers. Having these visuals and the task components clearly written out has really helped my students.
A little gimmick never hurt anyone right!? The whole ‘sneak peek’ thing we do in a whisper voice and act sneaky. My students think it’s hilarious and now ask me to do sneak peeks! Oh you didn’t take an acting class in college? Yea me neither – but whatever you gotta do to grab your kiddos attention and engagement – just do it. Hehe 🙂
Download the Sneak Peek Visuals here!