Everyone learns and communicates in different ways. Research suggests that our brain processes visual information much faster than most other means of information. Thus incorporating visual supports into everyday activities can help children with motor planning, routines, activities of daily living, and communication. They can assist a child who has difficulties making decisions or transitioning from one activity to the next. Visuals can help maintain optimal engagement for success in everyday life.
This post will aim to explain how and when we can utilize visuals in occupational therapy and everyday life. As everyone learns and communicates in different styles, utilizing a visual aid throughout routines can assist children in staying regulated for optimal levels of engagement. Here are some of the most common ways visuals are utilized to support engagement and participation in everyday life:
- Motor Planning
- Motor planning is a complex skill that includes the process of ideation, planning and sequencing, and successful execution of a task. It incorporates problem solving as well as feed forward and feedback skills. Utilizing visuals can assist children who may have difficulties with different aspects of motor planning and support their ability to start, sequence and complete a task. Visual aids can help break down an activity like toothbrushing, dressing, or simple meal preps. With visuals, the child will be able to see what happens in each step for successful execution. Click HERE for a free bathroom routine visual.
- Routines and Transitions:
- For our children who are rigid in their routines or have difficulties with transitioning from one activity to the next, visual aids can assist in letting the child know the full plan even before it starts. This can alleviate anxiety, uncertainty, and meltdowns throughout the day by helping the child feel more in control. You can utilize a simple visual such as “first, then” or create a full day plan depending on the needs of your child. Click HERE for free visual schedules to use with your kids.
- Visual timers are also a great way for children to see exactly how much time is left in an activity before clean up or transitions. Check out the ‘Visual Countdown Timer’ app for visual timers that create a fun picture.
- For our children who don’t use verbal speech as their main form of communication or have difficulties making choices, Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) can be explored. AAC can be described as multiple ways to communicate that either supplement or compensate for the impairment and aims to improve interactions and participation in everyday life. Learn more about the different types of AAC HERE.
Overall, visuals can be used every day and for many different reasons. Starting with simple visuals, such as 2-3 pictures can be a great way to start incorporating them into your daily routines.