VISUALS IN SPECIAL EDUCATION

A HUGE part of working with students in special education is providing a visually rich environment. Probably one of the MOST important things we can provide our students is an image to communicate information in a way that is not just auditory or verbal, and that is constant. For most of our students, this means VISUALS. 


There are multiple places to get your visuals. Many schools have subscriptions to Boardmaker or other similar image software, but I personally prefer more realistic images (because we don't really have cone-heads or stick figure bodies), so I tend to take a lot of photos myself. 
When we think of visuals, most special education teachers think of a schedule, but there are MANY other ways to incorporate visuals in the classroom. Visuals can be used for communication, directions, acquiring vocabulary, token boards, centers, and so much more!

Here are few tips for implementing visuals in your classroom:

  • TAKE YOUR OWN PHOTOS - Take photos of items and events in your room. Real photos are a great way to really communicate an item or concept to your students. I took actual photos of my students lined up to demonstrate what "line up" meant. It's relatable and easy to understand, especially when they see themselves lined up. You can also do this for sitting at desk, going to lunch, getting backpacks, getting on the bus, or anything else really.  
  • PHOTOS OF SCHOOL STAFF - Take photos of the people in your class such as your students, yourself, related service providers, and paraprofessionals. I used our staff photos for our center schedule so the students knew exactly where they were supposed to be (see below).
VISUAL CENTER SCHEDULE SPECIAL EDUCATION

REMINDER BRACELET VISUALS

This bracelet has visual reminders to use the restroom for a student who may be on a toileting schedule. Students or staff can remove an icon each time the restroom is used. You can get these blank slap bracelets from www.orientaltrading.com. Just add Velcro and any reminder item that you need. 

REMINDER BRACELET


FOR DAILY EVENTS
If you have students who do not do well with change have visuals to prepare them! You can have parents send in photos of family members who might pick them up from school on occasion. This is a page out of my TODAY BINDER.  


FOR LUNCH CHOICES
I had a student once who would always point to the pizza when we would go to the lunchroom so we just thought he REALLY liked pizza! Then, we decided to take photos of all of the other lunchroom food options (in middle school) and made a small ring of choices for him. We brought it with us every for lunch and he was able to select a variety of items and no longer ate pizza every single day!

VISUAL CHOICES SPED
LUNCH CHOICE RING


FOR SCHEDULES
Schedules should always include visuals whether they are on the board or individualized for each student. 
PORTABLE VISUAL SCHEDULE FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION


TOKEN BOARDS/REINFORCERS
You can take photos of actual reinforcers that are used your room. Sometimes it's hard to find an image of a specific toy or food item. I have taken pictures of cookies, crackers, balloons, bubbles, etc. An actual photo of a reinforcer may help communicate the item better. 
Sometimes the best way to find photos is to use your own phone and snap photos of items around your room! It's easy and you get photos of actual items. 
Here are a few places you can find clipart type visuals (usually require a membership):
www.boardmakeronline.com
Here are few websites where you should be able to find some FREE photos: 
If you want to make some of your own visuals, you can always email me at schoolbellsnwhistles@gmail.com for some help getting started! 


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