Visual Learning for Autism – a quick story

Visual learning for autism is a concept that we understand quite well now.

But you might not know this story . . .

We know that the majority of autistic students, plus many other students with communication or learning challenges, benefit from the visual strategies we use as a part of their communication environment.

But we didn’t always understand it like that.

In fact, when I started working in an autism program in the 1970’s, I’ll confess . . . we were clueless.

My first visual schedule

It was all about a very difficult student and a lunch box. I won’t tell the whole story right now, but it will be imprinted in my brain forever.

For right now, just understand that I created my first simple visual schedule and IT WORKED!

More visual strategies

Well, if you know me, you’ll understand that I’m a little bit “Columbo” and a little bit creative. I quickly learned that there were other ways we could use various kinds of visual strategies with our students to help them become more successful in school.

Who uses visual tools?

Keep in mind that we were doing something that was very unusual. Today, visual strategies are common in many classrooms (for all students) but particularly for neurodiverse students including autism. But that is not what existed back then.

What is “Speech Therapy” used for?

Those of you who are “vintage” will understand that traditional Speech Therapy in that era was working on articulation which means helping students pronounce words correctly.

My work with visual strategies was definitely “outside the box” and most people didn’t understand.

So . . . I wrote the book

My first book, Visual Strategies for Improving Communication, was published in 1995.  That’s a looooong time ago!

Did you know that this book has sold many hundreds of thousands of copies all over the world? It’s been translated into multiple languages including Arabic, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

And now there is something special I need to share with you!

Visual Strategies is having a BIRTHDAY!

This book has received multiple updates and revisions over the years. But this year is SPECIAL!

Visual Strategies is 29!

I know. . .  I know. . . people usually celebrate the decades (20, 30, 40, etc.), but somehow 29 is the perfect time to celebrate.

There are some updates and revisions that occur in every edition. But there is one really BIG change this time . . .

The book has a new cover . . .

Surprisingly, this has been a painful process . . . not because the old cover was so wonderful . . . but because it was so well known.

I participated in a book fair for local authors at my local library recently and several people came up to me to tell me they had my book (some purchased many years ago) and they recognized it from across the room.

It’s like having an “old friend”

Especially when the information inside has been meaningful. That reminds me of another story, but I’ll wait until the next newsletter to share it.

In the meantime, just remember that visual strategies are timeless. Using visuals is not a fad or something that is “in today and out tomorrow.” That book is filled with some “CORE” information that has transformed our understanding of communication for autistic students.

There are many other students who have benefitted, too, but the needs of the autistic population are often misunderstood. Visual supports are tools to help solve those mysteries.

Visual Strategies are more than a schedule

Visual learning for autism is something we understand much better since those early days. But there’s more I’ll share soon.

The updated, 3rd Edition of Visual Strategies for Improving Communication will be available soon.

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