Visuals for Autism to Reduce Behavior Problems

Visuals for autism happens to be one of my most favorite behavior management tools in special education.

Behavior visual tools are an incredible way to help students on the autism spectrum.

Through consistent use and effective teaching, these visuals play a crucial role in positively influencing student behavior and boosting their self-esteem.

Elevate the learning experience with social-emotional support tools.

Doing so will lead to an increase in understanding and an enhancement of comprehension.

Offering visual aids and behavior strategies tailored for students with autism can significantly enhance their behavior in a positive way, fostering an environment conducive to increased learning and comprehension.

A comprehensive set of visuals including cue cards, posters, mini social stories and other tools are ideal resource for students with autism, Asperger’s syndrome, or those facing behavior challenges.

By incorporating visuals for students into your classroom, you’re equipping your students with the essential tools to navigate more smoothly and thrive in their learning journey.

Breathing Visuals for Autism

A visual breathing tool for autism can be a valuable resource for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as it can help them regulate their breathing and emotions.

This tool consists of 10 breath pictures useful in a calm down corner or during times of stress or anxiety.

These pictures demonstrate a counting breaths along with a change of emotions with each breath.

By using this tool, individuals with autism can learn to self-regulate and manage their emotions in a more effective manner, leading to a sense of calm and relaxation.

Here’s how to use it:

Post the signs in your calm down corner and keep extra copies in an accessible area.

Use these whenever anyone needs a visual breathing guide.

The first page is meant to be cut in half with identical visuals on each half.

Use the second page as a desk strip and put it on top of a student’s desk or worktable.

Clear contact film or clear packaging tape secures this nicely.

To teach these visuals utilize an open dialog and discuss how deep breathing can calm the mind and body.

Teach this in whole group, small group, or individualized instruction.

Practicing breathing with student counting down each breath.

If you are using the visual on the desk, put a small item like an eraser at the 10 and move it one at a time as you breath to keep track of the breaths.

If you have this hanging on a wall, use a stick and peel icon to move down the row.

Of course, fingers work great for counting down as well.

When I Get Frustrated Visuals

Visual tools are an essential aspect of supporting individuals with autism, as they provide a tangible and concrete means of understanding and managing emotions.

Two effective visuals for autism tools include a frustration chart and a list of coping strategies.

The frustration chart visually depicts poor choices, okay choices, and good choices, allowing individuals to identify and categorize their emotions and corresponding behaviors.

This promotes self-awareness and empowers individuals to make positive choices when feeling frustrated.

The second visual tool outlines seven strategies that individuals with autism can utilize when feeling upset, such as deep breathing and taking a break.

This tool serves as a reminder of appropriate coping mechanisms and encourages individuals to take control of their emotions in a proactive and constructive manner.

Both of these visual tools are powerful resources for individuals with autism in managing their emotions and promoting positive behaviors.

Here’s how to use it:

Use these whenever anyone in the classroom needs support when frustration.

I utilize these anytime I make a mistake or become frustrated, so the students see this modeled.

To teach these visuals utilize an open dialog and discuss what is an appropriate reaction for something that causes frustration.

This is best utilized in individualized instruction.

Role play a moment of frustration and discuss the “wrong” way defined in the red circles.

Next, discuss the yellow circles that can be used as a stopper to keep someone from moving into the red.

Then, discuss and role play the green circles.

Feelings and Emotions Visuals for Autism

The use of visual tools in the treatment of autism has proven to be highly effective in promoting emotional regulation and understanding among individuals on the spectrum.

One of my favorite tools is a feelings and emotions leveled monitor, which provides a visual representation of emotions.

The visual tool I use has 3 three different versions: very simple, descriptive, and detailed.

This allows individuals to identify and communicate their feelings in a clear and structured manner.

Also, a feelings choices visual enhances this tool by providing a variety of emotions to choose from.

This lets students understand the vast amount of emotions that exist and provides them with a more accurate and personalized expression of emotions.

The feelings monitor aids in emotional development while also promoting effective communication and social interaction skills for individuals with autism.

Here’s how to use it:

Use the feelings choices to help students identify their emotions and begin to process their feelings.

I recommend teaching this in a small group or individual instruction.

Always teach this tool when the student is calm and in a state of learning.

Once the student is able to understand how to the tool during typical situations, utilize it

in crisis.

Print either the large volume chart (2 different charts available) for the classroom or the small chart for a student to use in their personal space.

I use the small one for students to keep at their work areas, in their folders or even wear on a lanyard around the neck.

Glue the printed chart on construction paper or cardstock.

Laminate and cut out. Use the supplied arrow and tape/glue it to a clothespin.

This allows the teacher to move the arrow to the appropriate category.

If a clothespin is too cumbersome, use a paperclip to easily move around.

Desk Behavior Reminder

The use of visual tools in the classroom has been proven to be an effective method for promoting appropriate behavior in students with autism.

A great tool is a desk reminder, a visual aid that serves as a constant reminder of expected behavior in the classroom.

This tool includes images that represent appropriate behavior, like raising one’s hand before speaking or staying in one’s seat.

By having this visual reminder readily available on their desk, students with autism can easily refer to it throughout the day.

This leads to an increase in positive behavior and an overall enhanced learning experience.

Additionally, this tool can also serve as a helpful resource for teachers to reinforce appropriate behavior and provide positive reinforcement.

Overall, the use of a desk reminder as a visual tool for autism can greatly benefit both the students and the classroom environment.

Here’s how to use it:

Print and laminate the page.

There are a few ways to display this visual for your student.

First, directly tape the page to the top of the student’s desk with clear packaging tape.

Second, if the student travels between classrooms, put it inside the clear plastic of a binder cover or at the front of a pocket folder.

If the student has a personal device or laptop, save the tool on the device as the background.

I Can Finish This Later

As educators, we understand the importance of providing support for our students to complete their tasks in a timely manner.

Some students with autism struggle transitioning out of a project they haven’t yet completed.

Because of this, implementing an “I can finish this later” sign as a visual tool can greatly aid students in managing their unfinished work.

This sign can serve as a reminder and cue for students to put their unfinished work in a designated area, allowing them to work on it at a different time.

This visual tool promotes independence and empowers students to take control of their learning, ultimately fostering a positive learning environment for students with autism.

Here’s how to use it:

Print, laminate, and cut out the sign.

Use this sign to post inside or above a paper tray, on the front of folder or binder, or in a designated area.

Basically, you are posting a sign anywhere the student can place unfinished work that needs to be completed at a later time.

Practice using this tool with the student.

Discuss how sometimes we have to stop working on something and finish it later.

Let them know that this is different but okay.

Tell them that they might get time to work on this later in the day at school or that it might turn into a homework assignment.

Alternate Behavior Visuals for Autism

The alternate behavior sorting card activity allows individuals to identify and sort appropriate behaviors in various social situations.

This activity not only helps in developing social skills, but also aids in improving problem-solving and decision-making abilities.

Because this is a visual tool, it’s accessible and engaging for individuals with autism, as it allows them to express their thoughts and feelings in a non-verbal way.

Remember that a tool like this is easily to customize so you can meet the specific needs and abilities of each individual.

Overall, the alternate behavior sorting card activity is a valuable tool in enhancing the development and well-being of individuals with autism.

And, you can also use these visuals for autism as an independent work station activity as well.

Double win!

Here’s how to use it:

Print and laminate the sheets.

Cut the cards out.

Label two baskets with the good choice or bad choice tags. In a 1- 1 or small group setting, introduce the activity.

Show and discuss each action one at a time.

Discuss which category the action belongs in and place it in the appropriate basket.

Do this with all the cards.

After doing this activity in a 1-1 or small group setting, this can be placed in individual workstations.

Throw that Choice in the Garbage

Possible one of my favorite easy to use and simple as can be visuals is the Throw that Choice in the Garbage sign.

Adults who haven’t seen it before always get a kick out of it.

This visual cue serves as a reminder for individuals to discard any unwanted or inappropriate behavior choices.

It not only provides a clear and direct instruction, but also promotes independence and self-regulation.

Simple yet impactful, this visual can be used in various settings aid in managing challenging behaviors and promoting positive decision-making skills.

As professionals working with individuals with autism, it is essential to utilize such effective visual tools to enhance their overall functioning and independent living skills.

Here’s how to use it:

Print, laminate, and cut out the sign.

Use clear packaging tape and tape this sign onto a trashcan in your classroom.

Practice using this tool with the student.

Discuss how sometimes we make choices that are not helpful.

When this happens, we can throw that choice in the trashcan.

This can be done by using one’s imagination and going through the motions without actually putting anything in the trashcan.

Also, you can have by small pieces of paper with Choice written on them.

Some students, though not many in my experience, do like drawing or writing out the choice to throw away.

No matter what avenue you pick, when a poor choice is made have the student throw the choice in the trash.

Cue Cards

Cue cards are extremely valuable tools that are simple and handy.

These cards serve as visual reminders for students to follow specific behavioral expectations in the classroom.

They provide a clear and concise representation of desired behavior, helping individuals with autism to better understand and follow social cues.

The use of these cue cards can ultimately lead to improved self-regulation and academic success for students with autism.

The sky’s the limit for how many cue cards a teacher can make.

This set has six cards with different prompts: raise your hand, quiet voice, quiet hands, stay in seat, eyes on teacher, and ready to work.

Here’s how to use it:

Print and laminate.

Next, either post the page in your classroom and use as a visual that staff can point to for behavior reminders or cut the cards out and use them as individual prompts.

If you have choose to use these as individual cards, punch a hole in the top left-hand corner of each card and place a binder ring through to hold the cards together.

Practice these commands with your students before using them in a real situation.

Students are much more likely to respond when they have rehearsed the action.

Stoplight Visuals for Autism

Stoplight visuals provide a clear and structured way of communicating expectations and consequences to individuals with autism.

The stoplight visuals consist of three color-coded cards, with each representing a different level of behavior: green for good behavior, yellow for warning, and red for unacceptable behavior.

These visuals can be used with a variety of individuals with autism as a way to understand and regulate their behavior.

By providing a visual representation of expectations and consequences, the stoplight visuals can greatly aid in promoting positive behavior in individuals with autism.

Here’s how to use it:

Print, laminate, and cut out the signs.

Post these signs in work areas in the classroom or on students’ desks, folders, and/or binders.

Pick whichever stoplight is most appropriate for your student while considering cognitive ability and if they respond best to visuals, written words, or a combination of both.

To teach these visuals, utilize an open dialog to discuss what behaviors occur at the different levels.

This is best utilized in individualized instruction.

Discuss with the student how the teacher will use the visual by pointing to the green, yellow, or red light to show them what level of behavior they are exhibiting.

Make sure the student understands that green is the most desirable behavior and that there are coping skills and support that can be used to get out of yellow and red and back into green.

Dealing with Emotions and Others

There are several visual tools available for individuals with autism to assist with communication and emotional regulation.

Two effective tools for addressing challenging situations include the “What to Say When Someone is Bothering You” chart and the “Choices to Make When You Get Angry” chart.

These visual aids provide individuals with autism clear and concise language to use when expressing their feelings and boundaries in uncomfortable situations.

The “Bothering You” chart offers a range of phrases and prompts to help individuals appropriately express themselves.

Likewise, the “Choices to Make When You Get Angry” chart provides a visual representation of various coping strategies to help individuals manage their anger in a constructive manner.

These tools can be valuable resources for individuals with autism to better navigate social interactions and control their emotions.

Here’s how to use it:

Print and laminate the sheets.

Post the signs in your calm down corner and keep extra copies in an accessible area.

Use these whenever anyone in the classroom needs support when they are having difficulties with peer relationships.

I utilize these anytime a student is upset with someone else or angry.

To teach these visuals utilize an open dialog and discuss what is an appropriate reaction when someone is bothering them.

This is best utilized in individualized instruction or with a peer.

Role play a moment when someone is bothering someone else.

Discuss the proper things to say included in the chart.

The use of positive behavior management visuals in the classroom is an effective and beneficial tool for students with autism.

These visuals not only provide a visual aid for understanding expectations and routines, but they also promote a positive and supportive learning environment.

By utilizing these visuals, teachers can effectively manage and address challenging behaviors, while also fostering independence and self-regulation in their students.

It is important to regularly assess and adjust these visuals to meet the individual needs of each student, as well as provide consistent reinforcement and praise.

With the implementation of positive behavior management visuals, students with autism can thrive in the classroom and reach their full potential.

Remember, there can never be too many visuals for autism in your tool box!

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Hey, there! I'm Caroline.

I’m a special educator who helps students, teachers, and families live their best lives.  I was born and raised on an Indiana farm that been in our family for over 150 years.  I love all animals, people with autism, and hot chocolate.

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