Visuals {Why They are Important}

Categories: Resources | Visuals


We live in a visual world. We are constantly surrounded by so many visual prompts and cues you probably don’t even realize it. It’s how we function, really. And while visuals are super important to us – they are even more important to individuals with autism. To get all technical – one of the diagnostic criterion of autism is a significant delay in language and communication that effects daily living skills. So that means – to get the diagnosis of autism, that individuals struggles with communication in some way. How this delay effects each individual is going to be different child to child. There can be a delay in expressive language {saying or showing your wants and needs} and/or receptive language {understanding what is said to you}. We can use visuals to help in both of these ways.

We are rolling through Seven Step for Setting Up a Stellar Autism Room. Visuals are Step 3! Here is the week’s agenda:

  1. Why visuals are important.
  2. Expressive Visuals
  3. Receptive Visuals
  4. Behavior Visuals
  5. Make It Easy & Accessible


The Autism Helper - Visuals

Since children with autism struggle with expressive and receptive language abilities, visuals are an essential tool to help students with autism understand their environment and express their wants and needs. Visuals could be used in a special education classroom or in a general education classroom where students are included. This is a simple and great way to incorporate the needs of your students with autism into your general education classroom!

A good example I like to use when explaining the importance of visuals to my paraprofessionals or to general education classrooms is being in another country. If we went to China, how would we know were the bathroom is? How would we know when it’s okay to cross a street? How would we ask for a glass of sprite? We would rely on visuals. We would recognize the bathroom visual cue. We would point to the sprite on the menu. This is the same for our students. I always clarify with general education students when I am doing autism lessons, that individuals with autism are not deaf. Their ears work. They can hear the words being said but they just can’t always understand them. It might sound as if it’s in another language.
But won’t using visuals make my student/child with autism less likely to learn to talk on their own or comprehend spoken language? Nope! Actually the complete opposite. Visuals HELP our children learn expressive and receptive language. They begin to pair the sound of the word with the meaning of the word. These visual strategies can help decrease problem behavior so children have the time and attention to learn new communication strategies. I have had the most success teaching students verbal language use visuals and other communication aides. These interventions provide the support our students need to be successful.
Okay – so I have sold you on visuals, right? Or you already knew the lovely important of visual and this was just a review! Stay tuned for more specifics on how to use this intervention effectively.
Seven Steps for Setting Up a Stellar Autism Room



  1. Visuals are so so essential! I often find pecs pictures in my pockets at home and always have first then visuals in my back pocket! Looking forward to reading more!

  2. Omigosh I have the same issue! PECS cultures sneak around everywhere! Haha!

  3. I have washed many pictures that were left in my pockets!


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