Specific strategy: Visuals
  • Clarify expectations (procedures and rules)
  • ›Allows students to see a visual representation of what is expected.
  • ›Establish a consistent routine for predictability
  • ›Can ease frustration with transitions as visuals can allow students to understand what is coming next.
  • ›Promotes independence
  • ›Can enable students to feel more successful, more aware, and more enabled.
  • ›Requires less direct instruction, prompting, redirection
  • ›Reduces amount of unnecessary language, helps avoid power struggles “because we do what our schedule says”

For students, visuals can help:
  • Provide structure
  • Reduce Anxiety
  • Encourage calm transitions
  • Provide less need for interpreting oral language
  • Provides opportunity to build trust and security
  • Provide motivation for less-preferred tasks
  • Build self-confidence and create more independence


First/Then: is a basic visual for student use. It uses what is called the "Premack Principle" in which a student must complete a non-preferred task ("first work"), then has access to a preferred task ("then play-doh").



Visual schedule: a visual schedule is a visual/written daily schedule. It outlines the school day with specific tasks. Most visual schedules should be interactive (taken away, marked off) and used with students. Visual schedules should be talked about and reviewed often, especially before and after transitions. The schedule can be whole day, half day, broken into morning/afternoon chunks, etc. They are explicitly taught using the same instructional method that we use for the content area.