Using visual supports in autism to teach social skills

The best way to help an autistic child cope is to first understand the way they think.


Generally autistic children think in pictures. This thinking process is known as visual thought. Children with autism spectrum disorder tend to be visual learners.

Meaning they understand what they see, better than what they hear. Visual learners, learn through thinking in illustrations, a bit like playing a movie, instead of actual words and ideas.


Therefore, they benefit significantly from the use of autistic visual supports and strategies. Therefore, for many children with autism spectrum disorder, words or language are secondary.

When giving instructions to children with autism, it is advisable to try to avoid long sentences of verbal information.


It is recommended that visual cues and symbols help autistic children better grasp what is expected of them or what is being taught.


Consequently, by using visual supports in autism to teach social skills and behaviors the autistic child will better grasp the skills they struggle to master.

Children with autism generally prefer or are more able to grasp rote memory, routines and repetition.

Visual supports in autism reflect these abilities using visual images and small amounts of appropriate text, making it easier for the autistic child to understand the skill or behavior being re-enforced or learnt.

Many parents and teachers of autistic students use visual supports in autism to teach social skills and behaviors such as, asking questions, calming down, having a conversation, teaching about personal space, even hygiene issues can be tackled using autistic visual supports.


Probably the most significant autistic visual supports being used are autistic social skills stories, these are generally written by experts and encompass all the right ingredients to help an autistic child learn social and communication skills and behaviors, as well as cope with routine changes.


It is recommended that autistic social skills stories are used to help children with autism spectrum disorder cope and manage behaviors, situations, events and skills they struggle with. Autistic social skills stories help alleviate anxieties surrounding learning and carrying out social and communication skills. They can benefit the autistic child by showing them visually how, when, what and why.

Many teachers of autistic students use autistic social skills stories in the classroom with great affect.

To download or learn more about social stories visit any of the following sites:

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