The basics of how to use Visuals

Visual aids can be very effective when introduced in a gradual manner making it a fun positive experience for the learner.

below is a suggestion for how to use the Single Sequences from this web site.

Select one sequence you are trying to teach.

1. Start by using pairs of pictures from that sequence and teaching a mini-sequence. For example from the hand washing sequence you could start with "sleeves up" and "turn tap on". Place the two pictures on a small backing board. Go through the action with the child. You as the parent/carer/teacher would of course do all the other steps for the child that they don't need to learn straight away (wash hands, use soap, turn tap off, wipe hands etc.). When you think they understand that you want them to copy the pictures (may take a few times or more) then just show them the card and say the words from the bottom and see if they do the actions - if not, help them do the action again.

2. Have another pair to show at the end as the child is ready, on a separate backing board eg. "turn tap off", "wipe hands". As the child achieves even one pair of events give large amounts of praise.

3. Add on pictures as the child becomes more competent. Try putting 3 pictures in a row. For example when wanting a child to wash their hands show card of "turn tap on","use soap", "wash hands". Gradually build up the number of pictures to achieve the whole sequence.

4. As you and your child get use to using pictures with this sequence,branch out and include pictures to teach other sequences


A real life example of sequence visuals being used

Tom who was nearly three was having trouble with bath time. He didn't seem to understand what I wanted him to do. I usually had to wrestle his clothes off and literally throw him in. I didn't even attempt to wash him. I just tried to play with him and hoped he'd get wet enough that he would be clean. I tried to get the shampoo in and washed out of his hair before he realised although, he usually knew enough to scamper to the other side of the bath and protest with screams and flying arms. I started only washing his hair when I had the energy to cope (which wasn't that often!). Then, after all that, when I attempted to pull out the plug and save him from the bath time he would be upset and I would have to wrestle him out of the bath. At least he like being wrapped up in the towel. But do you think he wanted to have his clothes on?!

With Tom I started with just "get Undressed" and "get into bath". I showed him the pictures first and talked to him about what the boy was doing and that Tom could do it too. I was surprised that Tom started pulling down his own shorts and when I pointed to the second picture and said "into bath" Tom tried to climb in. I gradually started using the "get washer" and "wash face", "wash arms" and "wash body". I did it with Tom and then Tom started doing it by himself. I then put four pictures on a board and as I pointed to them Tom would do it and even started going ahead and doing the next picture before I pointed to it. I used the "rub shampoo in hair", "wash shampoo out", "wipe eyes" and "finish" to help with hair washing. Again I talked through it with him first and then we did it picture by picture. I was surprised at how it worked. There was still a small protest I must admit but no where near the anxiety I had seen in him before. Now when I point to "get out of bath" he does it without complaint and quite quickly. Its great. We are also now at a point where we have a six picture sequence of - get undressed,get into bath,get washer,get out of bath,dry off and get dressed. I point to the pictures only when Tom is dawdling. I add in three hair washing pictures when we need it and bath time is much more pleasant.  *UPDATE: Tom went from this level of independence to then carrying the backing board with pictures into the bathroom himself and doing the sequence  - pulling each picture  off as it was completed - now at ten years old I just ask (okay usually tell) Tom to go and have a shower and he does it all independently no longer needing the visuals- even hair washing when reminded!

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