From an early age, we learn that differences make the world go round, from the way we dress to the way we think and process information. As we continue to learn more about the characteristics of autism, we have found that individuals who are on the autism spectrum communicate and process information in a unique way. In order to help children with autism be the best communicators and learners that they can be, visual tools, including visual calendars for autism can be extremely beneficial in applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy.
How do visual tools help children with autism spectrum disorder?
Visual tools, or visual support, can be a great way to help children on the spectrum communicate and understand language, both in school and at home. As individuals with autism often experience difficulties with understanding language, a visual support can increase communication and language skills by providing structure and making language more concrete. It can also be easier to engage a student and keep their attention by using a visual cue, as opposed to an auditory cue. Anxiety levels can also be reduced by a visual support, because the child has more time to focus on the visual cue when processing the information.
What is a visual calendar?
A visual calendar will use both words and pictures to provide a positive behavioral support for children with autism who succeed with a strong structure in place. By providing a visual support, the expectations for the child are clear, making it easy for the child to predict what comes next in their day. Visual calendars also provide consistency for the child when they are used in ABA therapy, both the home and at school.
A visual calendar (or visual schedule) can start with tasks that need to be completed first thing in the morning, such as brushing teeth and getting changed before eating breakfast. The calendar will be used throughout the day for tasks needed to be completed during school, including putting your backpack and coat in the cubby at school and washing your hands before lunch. After the school day, the visual calendar can still be used at home to set different tasks, including brushing your teeth and washing your face before bedtime.
If you think that a visual calendar could be helpful for your child with autism, an ABA therapist or teacher may be able to offer resources or suggestions for creating this visual support. You may find that using the calendar will help to reduce your child’s anxiety throughout the day by creating clear expectations and allowing additional time to process information.
Want to learn more about visual supports?
Contact us or call (773) 630-4400 to learn more about the range of services we provide for children who are on the autism spectrum at Chicago ABA Therapy, including applied behavior analysis therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology.