Diets and Visual Strategies for Autism???

This post has some tips for using visual strategies.

There is a pattern they call “yo-yo dieting.” Have you ever heard of “yo-yo visual strategies?”

How do YOU use visual strategies for your students with autism?

I was doing a workshop recently and asked for some feedback from the group. One of the participants commented, “Well, I just got a swift kick in the b___.”

We started to talk. She’s a “believer” in visual strategies for her students with autism. She uses them. But what she realized during the course of the workshop is that what she USED to do is not what she does now. She has drifted away from her basics. It’s a bit like going off your diet.

The good intentions fade away
One of the important principles for managing the challenges of autism is consistency. In spite of that, one of the biggest problems people can encounter with using visual strategies is consistency.

It’s one of the big secrets to success in using visual strategies for our students with ASD. Out of consistency comes trust and a predictable life. That’s what our students need and crave and desire.

The middle of the school year is tricky. It’s too easy to forget the power of the visual tools. By now, students seem to be doing better because they have become familiar with so many of those routines we established in the beginning of the school year. That can lead to complacency and forgetting to use the visual tools that work.

I’ve consulted with teachers
In the beginning of the school year they diligently work to start new routines with some visual tools to help their students overcome those challenges that come with a new environment.

By the middle of the year they drift away from using those tools that worked so well. Then the teachers start asking me questions about the behavior problems that seem to be popping up all over the place. They want to know why.

There’s some interesting research
Here’s what it says. We know what works, but half of us don’t do what we know works. My question is this. Why?

What prevents consistency?
It takes time to make visual tools. Some people feel they don’t know what to do. Or they don’t know how to do it. Or they think they have everything they need.

And here’s the classic
I’ve heard it too many times. “My students really don’t need the visual strategies any more.” When I hear that one I wonder, “If that’s the case, why are they having all these behavior problems?”

Here’s what needs to happen
The only thing that prevents success is being inconsistent with using your visual supports. Once you make that decision to use them consistently, you never quite run out of things to do. And that’s a good thing.

And then here’s what happens. The more you do, the faster it goes. The better you get at it.

Does life get in the way????
Of course. Sometimes it seems that everything in life is designed to take you off your path. (That’s just like going on a diet, isn’t it???)

From my own experience, once I made that decision to be consistent with visual strategies, everything changed . . . . in a really good way.

Don’t let yourself off the hook . . . Make the decision to be consistent with your use of visual strategies. It WILL make a difference . . . . with positive results.

P.S. I’ve heard of yo-yo dieting. I wonder if there is such a thing as yo-yo visual strategies??

P.P.S. For me, consistency with visual strategies has been much easier than dieting. How about you???? Please comment.

P.P.P.S. I know that once students learn the routines in your environment, they may not use the visual supports in the same way.  But that doesn’t mean they don’t need visuals.  Sometimes we change how we use them. I think that will be a topic for another blog post.



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