What is the Research?
There is an increasing amount of research that validates the use of visual strategies to support communication. Research is also confirming the challenges these individuals have processing auditory information.
Here is one recent example:
Scans Show Sound-Processing Deficits in Autistic Kids
- Unique brain wave patterns, spotted for the first time in autistic children, could help explain why the children have so much trouble communicating
- Communication issues may stem from delays detected in processing of sounds
- They process sounds a fraction of a second slower than other children
- That delay is only a fraction of a second, but when it’s for every sound, the lag time can cascade into a major obstacle in speaking and understanding people
- Imagine if it took a tiny bit longer than normal to understand each syllable. By the end of a whole sentence, one would be confused
- “This delay in processing certain types and streams of sound may underpin the subsequent language processing and communication impairment seen in autistic children,” researcher Timothy Roberts, vice chair of research in the department of radiology at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said in a news release issued by the RSNA
- It is uncertain whether the patterns found in the study exist in all autistic children
- University of Texas – Paper presented at Radiological Society of North America 2009
These studies demonstrate successful use of visual strategies for many purposes
The Use Of Visual Supports To Facilitate Transitions Of Students With Autism
Visual supports were used to aid transitions from one activity to another for two elementary boys. Data revealed significant decrease in the latency between the time the students were given instructions and the time they began the next activity when the visual supports were used. Visual supports also resulted in a significant decrease in teacher-delivered verbal prompts and physical prompts during transition.
Dettmer, S., Simpson, R.L., Myles, B.S., & Ganz, J.B. (2000). Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 15, 163-169.
Using An Activity Schedule To Smooth School Transitions
Functional assessment of a preschool child’s aggressive and disruptive behaviors identified antecedent conditions associated with difficulties during transitions from one activity to another. A schedule board produced a dramatic decrease in aggression and increase in cooperative behavior in the classroom.
Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, Vol. 3, No. 1, 57-61 (2001)
Teaching Daily Living Skills To Children With Autism In Unsupervised Settings Through Pictorial Self-Management
Study of 3 low-functioning children (ages 6-9) with autism found children could successfully use pictures to manage their self-care behavior in the absence of a treatment provider, generalize their behavior across settings and tasks, and maintain behaviors at follow-up. When picture order was manipulated, subjects followed the new picture sequence.
Pierce, K.L. & Schreibman, L. (1994). . Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Vol. 27, No. 3, pp. 471-481
Effects Of Using Photographic Cueing Package During Routine School Transitions With A Child Who Has Autism
Photo cues were used for teaching a 6-year-old with autism to make successful transitions in daily routines. Providing advance notice of an activity change using combined verbal and photo cues helped reduce child’s tantrums while increasing number of appropriate transitions.
Schmit, J., Alper, S., Raschke, D., & Ryndak, D. (2000). . Mental Retardation, 38, 131-137.
Using An Instructional Package Including Video Technology To Teach Self-Help Skills To Elementary
Video modeling and video prompting were used to successfully teach 3 self-help skills (cleaning sunglasses, putting on a wrist watch, and zipping a jacket) to 3 elementary students with mental disabilities.
JM Norman, BC Collins, JW Schuster – Journal of Special Education Technology, 2001
There are many more studies that have demonstrated successful use of visual strategies to improve communication, reduce or eliminate many behavior challenges and teach appropriate social skills to help individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and those with related learning difficulties to participate in life opportunities with success.