2004 Conference Proceedings

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Visual Supports for Children with Disabilities

Presenters
Harold C. Griffin, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Curriculum and Instruction
East Carolina University
122 Speight Building
Greenville, North Carolina 27858

Kim Floyd, M.Ed.
Director, REAP (Revolving Education Around Partnerships)
Department of Curriculum and Instruction
East Carolina University
122 Speight Building
Greenville, North Carolina 27858

Linda W. Griffin, M.Ed.
Assistant Professor
Roanoke-Chowan Community College
Department of Early Childhood Education
Ahoskie, North Carolina 27810

Summary

This presentation will focus on the use of visual supports to provide structure and stimulate receptive and expressive language in children with disabilities.

Paper

The use of schedules as part of augmentative communication can be very helpful to children with disabilities. Visual schedules assist children and adults with disabilities in various activities. Such visual supports help children follow rules, understand what is happening in the day, know what they are suppose to do, and make choices about what they want (Savener, & Myles, 2000; Potter, & Whittaker, 2001; Myles, & Simpson, 2003). In addition, schedules help students in transitioning independently between activities as well as spontaneously making requests through the selection of various elements of a schedule.

Mesibov, Schoppler, & Hearsey (1994) suggest that visual supports can include object, picture, and written formats. The initial steps in developing visual schedules include identifying things the child likes, picking one of the items or activities, and taking a picture of it. This picture can then be placed on a piece of cardboard and laminated. If needed the picture can be paired with an actual object in the initial stages of schedule use. The picture schedule can be placed with other pictures to develop a picture symbol schedule.

McClannahan, & Katz (1999) report that the goal of visual schedules is to enable children and adults with disabilities to do task without direct prompting. Schedules frequently allow children to sequences their own activities and create framework for building social interaction skills.

This presentation will focus on the development of visual support systems. Examples will be provided of individual calendars used to help children organize their home and school environments. Such organization helps children in reducing insecurity, tantrums, and fears as well as developing a sense of space, predicting coming events, and gaining a sense of control over their environment.

The presentation will develop strategies to develop visual systems that will address activities of the entire class for both half day and whole day calendars. It also will present strategies for the development of individual daily schedules as well as provide suggestions in the development of work schedules.

Examples also will be provided to review the development of both language boards for students as well as the use of communication shelves. The language boards will initially utilize objects. A progression will be introduced to progress from actual objects, to specific pictures, to general pictures, and then to braille or print only. The use of a communication shelf will stress the importance of consistency and the use of objects to represent activities throughout the day. Further, other concepts will stress either a functional or representative nature of the objects provided on the communication shelf, left to right progression of objects as they present daily activities, and the concepts of activity initiation and completion.

The use of visual systems also will be explored in the arena of functional skills. Such skills will include the use of visual systems to complete domestic chores, the development of a travel schedules, and the development of such self-help skills as hand washing, shaving, or showering. Visual schedules can assist students in independently being able to do such domestic jobs as washing clothes or setting the table. Any job can be task analyzed and represented visually. Travel schedules can assist students in knowing where they are going and the sequence of events of the activity. Finally, many self-help skills can be evaluated and posted visually. Pictures of each step of a self-help task can be pictured. The visual system can then be laminated and posted at strategic locations to assist students.

The presentation will feature practical and hands on experiences for the participants. The information will be delivered through a PowerPoint presentation format. There also will be accompanying handouts. In addition, various examples of technology will be provided for the participants to experience. Finally, a question and answer session will be provided at the end of the presentation session to enable participants to clarify concepts presented during the presentation.


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