Posts Tagged ‘PECS’

Using visual strategies for autism and preschool

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

It is common for preschool aged children with autism to have difficulties moving on from activities or tasks. Generally all preschool aged children with autism will prefer routines and want things to stay constant and the same, without deviations or changes no matter how small.


The need for routine is common to autism and forms part of the symptoms of autism.


It is not uncommon for a preschool aged autistic child to get stuck on an activity especially if it interests them and teachers can have a difficult time trying to move the child onto the next thing. The preschool aged autistic child can become anxious even agitated or aggressive when the teacher tries to encourage them onto a new activity.


These difficulties can make the ever changing preschool environment confusing and stressful to the autistic child.


Research into how teachers can best cope within preschool suggests that using visual strategies for autism and preschool can be beneficial.


Using visual strategies for autism and preschool such as a visual schedule, flash cards, PECS and social skills stories are known to help teachers communicate and cope with the autistic child in their care.


Children with autism can become anxious when things change or they do not know what is happening, such as moving onto the next activity. By implementing a visual schedule the autistic child can see the days plan. Thus removing anxieties about what is happening, giving them information about what to expect now or next, therefore reducing the stress of not knowing.


PECS and flash cards can be used to help children with autism recognise areas for example the bathroom, sink, where the pencils are etc. A small picture is placed above the area showing the autistic child exactly where something is. Preschool aged autistic children can become anxious when things or places are not clear. A preschool aged autistic child is not inquisitive and will not look for the pencil draw for example.


PECS and flash cards are also used as a means of communication, for example a teacher can show the preschool aged autistic child a picture or image, for example of a drink to let the autistic child know it is time for a drink etc.


Children with autism will understand information far quicker and simpler if the information is visual. Try to talk less and use visual strategies as, children with autism think in pictures, they are visual thinkers and learners.


It is also recommended that teachers of preschool aged children with autism try using visual strategies for autism and preschool such as social skills stories. Teachers are able to share the social skills story with the autistic child to help them understand the “wh” question (who, where, why, when and what).


So for example if the preschool autistic child struggles to understand why Mummy leaves in the morning, the teacher or Mum may share a social skills story showing visually why Mummy goes, where she goes and when she will return, taking away the anxiety the preschool autistic child is feeling.


Another example would be snack time, a social skills story can show the child, when it is snack time, why the children have snack time, what they can expect to happen and how they will be expected to behave, again removing the anxiety.


These are just a few suggestions. To find out more about using visual strategies for autism and preschool such as PECS and flash cards visit:


Social skills stories can be found at