When children have language or reading delays we often use what we call “visual supports” to help them learn and communicate. You may see this in your child’s IEP or 504 Plan (Though, they can be helpful for all children, not just those with special learning needs). So, what exactly is a visual support?
Visual supports might be pictures, words, stories, or cartoons.
We can use them to help children communicate when they can’t speak.
For instance, a child might point to this picture if they don’t know the answer to your question.
(*Picture from Lessonpix.com, a great resource for visuals for kids.)
We can use them to help children learn what to expect next.
We might use pictures to make a schedule for the whole day, or to help them sequence a project. This is a simple one that I’ve used to help children sequence the steps to make a craft.
You don’t always need pictures, though. Children who can read may do well with tasks written down.
We may use them as reminders.
We may use them to teach appropriate behavior.
For example, here is a social story that I made to teach basic school expectations to a young child.
Here is another visual support I made to help children learn to modulate their voice levels.
There are endless visual supports available online. Although you are most likely to find information about visual supports in connection with children with autism I have used them successfully for children without autism as well.
You can find some free pictures to use at do2learn.com or use google images. If you want to be guaranteed child friendly images and a large bank of pictures try boardmaker.com or lessonpix.com. You can also find more pictures with a variety of skin tones on these sites (and on lessonpix you can even customize this!)