How to Use Visual Supports Every Day

Maintaining communication skills that our children and learners have worked on throughout the school year should not be lost over the summer months. It is important for some of our families, occasionally including our own, to continue structure and predictability whenever it feels attainable. While we do our best for our children and encourage our learners’ families to continue protocols and learning over the summer, my team and I all know how it is as a parent during the summer months. Our minds get more relaxed and days have expanded hours. We have busy schedules with friends and families. In this post, I will share resources and tips I have recommended to my learner’s families and strategies I am implementing at home with my two boys to help increase independence and maintain and grow communication. 

Visual schedule

Busy schedules include sports, work, field trips, summer camp, date nights, errands, and chores. 

Our monthly schedule is color-coded for each of our family members and we use black for activities that we are all doing together. I have had families that benefited from a weekly schedule for their children which included information and activities simply a week at a time rather than monthly. If this is what works best, then it is the best for that family! 

The daily schedule is one that we can do together in the mornings when we have time. This schedule already has the typical day lined out with meal times and nap times and then we fill the gaps with activities to do based on the weather, availability, and of course our moods. The icons that we have that we can choose from are our library, park, picnic, pool, beach, walk, play with friends. I always talk with our learner’s families and remind them that there are days when we might not have the time or energy to fill in the time with the daily schedules. If a child benefits from a daily schedule, I recommend using the outlined schedule of the typical routine and go from there. Not having an icon or each part of the day planned gives opportunities to work on flexibility and use our imagination and ideas to fill the time. 


During ESY in the classroom and in our learner’s homes, initiating and maintaining communication with adults and peers is how they get their wants and needs met, The following visual supports can be used and transferred back and forth from school to home. They are also tools to bring out within the community. Communication should be available at all times!

  • PECS
  • Core boards
  • Visual Schedules
  • Verbal Modeling 


Routines and Independence 

Independence can be practiced with all ages and throughout many routines and activities within the classroom and the home. My team and I give examples of functional and daily routines to families. 

Functional routines: 

  • brushing teeth
  • cleaning up
  • washing hands
  • using the bathroom 
  • getting a snack
  • emptying the dish washer
  • loading the dryer 
  • putting on shoes
  • changing clothes
  • Play
  • Chore charts
  • Boredom buster bins 

The following resources are the ones my team and I recommend to families and ones that we use in our own homes! 

  • Commenting Visuals for Students Who Are Nonverbal
  • Home Resources Core board
  • This website shares free visuals for communication and lesson plans for home and school. Many of these visuals help increase communication and are organized so that we can find them easily!


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