Now, when I say visuals most people think of devices for communication or speech. They are thinking about things where the child might use visuals to replace or aid verbal communication. Those are visual supports/communication methods we use to help those who struggle to express themselves to do so as effectively as possible, but those are not the only kinds of visuals we should be thinking about.
What about for our children and importantly students at school who don’t need a device to communicate their wants and needs but need help understanding different areas of curriculum or instructions, etc. Why not use visuals for these?
When people hear ‘Speech and Language Therapy’, they typically do not think about pictures and visuals in speech. They probably are going to think about words, sentences and sounds. Since people do not typically think of visuals when it comes to speech ( especially if the child CAN talk) then it can confuse or surprise some parents and teachers when we recommend incorporating visuals into the home and classroom.
First, let’s think about how often we use visuals.
Do you use a day planner or Google calendar or similar? I do! This is a visual strategy. I can just look at my planner page and see what I have scheduled and generally I color code it. Which if these is easier to understand?
Have you ever taken a photo with your phone to remind you where something is? I have. This is another visual strategy.
which if these signs is easier to understand?
How about these logos? You got it, more visuals.
What about these ‘safety card’ examples for your next flight. Which do you find easier to follow?
We all use visuals to help us to follow instructions, understand what we are being told, with memory and thinking. So for those with communication difficulties visual supports is even more important.
Think of foreign language signs, if these did not have pictures would they be safe and easy to understand, think about, follow and remember if you didn’t speak English?
Classrooms MUST have visuals this will not only benefit all students but imparticular those who need a little more support.
So when your children/ students are struggling and explanations just won’t do it, don’t forget that sometimes seeing the information can be just helpful, if not more so, than hearing the information.