Visual Learning with Augmentative Communication
One way to improve these children’s lives is to introduce learning tools called Augmentative Communication. This assistive technology provides visual information in a creative format to improve a child’s ability to complete activities of daily living both in the home and at school. Depending on the situation, various visual systems can be introduced to turn up the volume on learning. For example, an Activity Schedule can be created to remind the child what they have to do when they wake up to get ready for school. The morning routine can be represented using various photographs, drawings or words placed chronologically in a three ring binder as follows:
Page 1: a toilet
Page 2: a toothbrush and toothpaste
Page 3: a hairbrush
Page 4: a shirt, underwear, pants, socks, and shoes
Page 5: a bowl of cereal and milk
Page 6: a backpack
After completing each action it’s important for the child to cross off the item or place the picture in an “all done" envelope. When the information is presented in this way it helps the child understand the sequence of daily events.
All children have an easier time of moving from one activity to another when given a verbal two-minute warning that a change is coming. However, since children with Autism are more visual than auditory, the transition time can be made easier by introducing Forewarning Cards. Each card tells the child what is going to happen next. When a child is going to start an activity, a green circle card is placed on their desk with the word “go" smack dab in the middle of the circle and they are told to begin the activity. When there are approximately 1-2 minutes left for the child to continue the activity, an "almost done" yellow circle is placed in front of the child, followed by a verbal message that they are going to need to stop in two minutes. When the time comes for the child to stop the activity, a red stop sign card with the word "stop" is placed on their desk and they are verbally told to stop the activity.