Review – Making Visual Supports work in the Home and Community

Making Visual Supports work in the Home and Community for Individuals with Autism and Asperger Syndrome – Jennifer Savner and Brenda Myles

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This is a short book (around 35 pages) which shows different ways of using visual supports both at home and elsewhere for autistic people. It is relatively inexpensive if bought second hand because whilst the information contained in it is useful, it’s not worth the new asking price.

The book starts with a few pages on why we should use visual supports, what visual supports are, and factors to consider when introducing their use. It’s not in-depth by any means, but it is clear and straight to the point which is often important for those who are just learning about using visual supports.

Visual supports help children:

  • follow rules
  • understand what they are supposed to do
  • know what is happening in their day
  • understand how to complete work or play activities and tell someone they are finished
  • move from one activity to another
  • make choices about what they want to do

After this it moves straight into sections which outlines examples of different types of visual supports with brief descriptions and explanations of use alongside a range of visual examples of their use. These sections are loosely divided into four main areas for the use of visual support:

  1. Visual Schedules
  2. Information Sharers
  3. Checklists and organisers
  4. Behaviour Supports

The different examples range from objects of reference through photos and symbols to text only, with each section showing multiple ways of implementing different visual supports. It includes ideas that might not be immediately obvious such as ‘people locators’ which are for helping an individual understand where a family member is if they go away to somewhere like university, and recipe books that consist entirely of symbols to help increase independence.

Spencer uses this information sharer to tell his parents what he did at school. Spencer’s teacher and Spencer circle all the activities he completed during the day. When Spencer gives the visual support to his father later in the day, they can talk about what Spencer did at school.

After this there is information on how to make visual supports which talks about different styles that can be used such as photos, symbols, objects or text and then goes into the different materials needed and how much information should be included on the visual support. This is followed by a brief guide on how to use them and advice on choosing which area to start with, how to get it started and how to involve the individual in the making and use of the visual support. It finished with an important piece of advice on ensuring not to remove visual supports prematurely, it should always be up to the individual when to fade supports, not anyone else.

Making visual supports requires a time investment. As mentioned earlier, the rule is to start small. Make one visual support, see how it works and build upon it.For example, if the child’s biggest difficulty is getting ready for bed, then create a visual that shows the child the steps to get to bed.


Is it worth reading?

Surprising, given it’s brevity, yes. This packs a lot of information and examples into a very short space and as someone who uses visual supports with a range of students in my working life I found suggestions and examples in here that I hadn’t thought to use. Just find it second hand because £16+ is a lot to pay for 35 pages.

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