Decreasing Behaviors With Pictures

angryboyDo you ever say to yourself, “There must be a better way!” when it comes to figuring out how to respond to a child/adolescent with special needs who is kicking and screaming?  If you’re like most people, you probably didn’t earn a degree in Special Education or Behavioral Psychology and therefore don’t feel equipped to manage behaviors!  However, you’re passionate about your learners, all of your learners, and if you had just ONE useful strategy to help them remain calm you’d put it to use!  Well, here is a Positive Support Strategy that might just do the trick:

The Visual Schedule

It is typical for teachers and other adult volunteers to presume that children/adolescents with special needs understand everything that is said to them.  Frequently they do not.  In fact, many of the behavior and social skill problems that these students demonstrate can be linked to a lack of understanding someone else’s instructions.

Over the years as I have observed students with special needs, I have discovered that many of them demonstrate a strength in understanding visual information compared to their ability to respond to what they hear.  Based on this observation (and a variety of research!) let me say this:

Using visual strategies to support communication provides an effective way to improve both understanding and reduce the behaviors associated with not understanding.

For many students with communication challenges, the use of visually supported communication is more effective and efficient than just talking to them.  Visual tools assist students in processing language, organizing their thinking, remembering information and many other skills necessary to participate effectively.

Consider this example:

The words/instructions that you say are fleeting.  It is there and then it is gone.  It is transient.  That means it comes and then it disappears and your student have very little time to try and process the information and act on it!

Using visual strategies helps.

The visual cues help students to establish attention.  Visual information stays there long enough for the student to see it, take in the information and respond to it. It is non-transient. It doesn’t fly away. Students can go back over and over if they need, to understand and remember.

One of the best tools that you can use to visually communicate information is a Visual Schedule.  Here’s a short video on how to use a Visual Schedule to decrease behaviors:


Michael Woods

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About Michael Woods

Christ-follower, husband, chocoholic, and peanut-butter lover! I'm a father to triplet boys...each on the autism spectrum.

View all posts by Michael Woods

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