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Wait! Don't put away those visuals just yet!

Throughout the last year I have written blogs post about the importance of visuals and the different kinds of visuals you can use. Now you have started to put some visuals in place and I will assume they have made a difference.  What do you do now?  Do you keep them?  Do you stop using them because transitions or following the routine/directions does not seem to be as big a problem?

The answer is "No!" It is natural to want to start to fading away supports when children start to function more successfully in a situation.  The goal is to have the least amount of support available for a child to be the most successful. And well, let's be honest, making visual supports (and sometimes using them) can be time consuming and can seem like a never ending process. You may feel or even hear others say, "He's doing so much better now.  He doesn't need those anymore."  I think we sometimes forget that the child is more successful because the visuals are in place. To take those away from the child now is not fair to him or her. 

The problem is we often try to take them away or change them before the child is ready for them to be removed or changed. I will fully admit, I have been guilty of this.  Children will still need them way longer than we expect them to need them.  Try thinking it like this, visual supports are like your day timer, you could probably function okay without it but think about how much easier you day is with your day timer.  Okay so now what?  When do you start to reduce the visual supports?

There is no easy answer and some children will always depend heavily on them and that's okay because it is something they need to be more successful.  I usually wait a long time after the visuals are working (sometimes I will wait a year) and then I will start to slowly reducing them.  During that time, I alway make sure I have their original visual available if the new visuals/no visuals are not working. It is sometimes feels more like an art than a science and it should be done with care.