Why would my child benefit from the use of visuals?

At least once a week I am asked by a concerned parent why visual supports will enhance their child’s performance. For several families there appears to be a stigma associated with the use of visuals. They don’t want their child to appear “different” and the thought of using visuals is demanding on top of all the extracurricular activities filling the week.

What if I were to tell you that we use visuals throughout our day without even realising it?

  • Our smart-phones send us pop-up reminders of events throughout the day

  • When we heat up our cup of coffee in the microwave (for the umpteenth time) we watch the countdown to beat the buzzer to ensure no noise disturbs the sleeping child

  • When exercising, the use of fitness apps indicate what exercise is coming up next and counts down how much time remains in our workout

At this stage, you may be wondering why this is relevant to your child and the use of visuals. The answer is simple - all of the tools above assist us with anticipating what is going to happen and helps us with preparing our responses accordingly. Just think what would happen if someone said to you “go for a run”. No time frame. No direction. How would you feel? Would you feel motivated to continue or feel deflated as you can’t see an end to the task? The same goes for your child. 

Using visuals assists your child with understanding what is expected of them and increases their positive behavioural responses. At the same time, they are learning how to  identify adverse sensory stimuli before they are exposed to them, and modulating their responses accordingly.

Visuals don’t need to be complex, they just need to be meaningful to your child.