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Visual Strategies

Some examples of visual strategies that work well for children with autism in both home and educational settings. 

Visual Timetables

Can be in the form of:

  • Objects of reference
  • Photographs
  • Symbols

The developmental level of the child will determine which type of visual prompt you use.

  • The first stage is to show the child one visual at a time for the activity you would like them to do this is to start encouraging them to follow an adult agenda.

Choice Boards

  • This can be used to let children make a choice from a selection of objects, photographs or symbols.
  • Start with a choice of 2 items and build this up gradually over time when the child is ready.
  • Introduce a one minute symbol and timer to prepare the child for change.

Now and Next

  • This shows the child which activities they are going to do and what is coming next.
  • Gradually building up to a more detailed timetable of the day.
  • Remember to use a timer to prepare the child for change.

Visual Prompt boards

  • These can be used to show the child which equipment they must bring to school each day or after school activities.
  • You can use the chart for the whole week or just show one day at a time.

Symbol Keyring

  • These can be clipped on to your clothing and carried around with you at all times

Routine Symbol strip/ Getting Dressed book

  • You can use the lift and flap strip to show the child different routines, e.g. morning/night time routine or getting dressed for PE
  • Each flap has a different symbol stuck under it, when the child has finished.
  • You can put the symbols for each item of clothing that needs to be removed or put on each page in the book. The child can turn the page when each part has been completed.

Reward Charts

  • These can be individualised to a child's likes and what motivates them

Transition Booklet

  • Photographs of the school would be placed into a file or booklet so the child could have this at home to look regularly.

  •  All areas of the school would be included, rooms they would access, toilets, outdoor area and staff that will be working with the child.

  •  Remember if just changing class to include both the things that will different and what will stay the same e.g. lunch ball and toilets


  • Using the symbols can help the child to recognise emotions in themselves and others.

Helping hand

  • It can also be used by the child to give to an adult when they need help.

No Entry Sign

  • This can be stuck on doors and cupboards that the child can not enter.

Wait Symbol

  • This can be used to show the child that they have to wait, when you first introduce it only make the child wait for a short amount of time and then gradually build up this time.

Visual Prompt Spots

  • This can be used as a visual cue to show the child where they need to sit during carpet time sessions.
  • This can be portable so it can be used in other areas of the school or taken out on school trips.
  • It is useful to allow the child to have their own personal space, especially if they do not like people getting too close to them.

Turn Taking Wheel

  • This can be used as a visual cue to help a child recognise turn taking rules.

Some printable symbols that can be used at home.