The use of visuals is an evidence based strategy for strengthening, teaching and enhancing communication skills in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism Spectrum Disorder is no longer considered a low-incidence disability. 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to estimates from CDC's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. ASD is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. ASD is about 4.5 times more common among boys (1 in 42) than among girls (1 in 189).
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) impairs a person’s ability to communicate and relate to others (Roa, & Gagie, 2006). Visual supports are tools that are used to increase the understanding of language, environmental expectations, and to provide structure and support for individuals with ASD.
Roa and Gagie’s (2006) reasons to why you should use visual supports:
- They are part of everyone’s communication system.
- They can attract and hold a student’s attention.
- They enable the student to focus on the message and reduce anxiety.
- They make abstract concepts more concrete for the student.
- They help the student express his or her thoughts.
- They help all students.
According to Hodgdon (2000), visual supports, when implemented correctly, allow students with autism the freedom to engage in life, regardless of impairment. Visual supports have been successfully used to teach children with autism a variety of skills to include literacy skills, cooking, encouraging positive behavior, and providing activity schedules. Roa and Gagie (2006) stated, that “Visual supports help bring in structure, routine, and sequence that many children with autism require in order to carry on their daily activities” (p.27).
Here is a great site with the article, "25 Reasons to Use Visual Strategies with Student with Autism".