Autism and Visual Aids – Research Notes – Learning Through Seeing and Doing

After looking into the VARK Theory of learning I began to wonder what kind of learners are children on the Autism Spectrum and how can I help those in the class do their work/improve their learning while i’m there.

I found this useful online extraction from a Journal which I believe is called Teaching exceptional children. I could be wrong but that’s what I gathered from the information on the pages.

Below I will have notes taken from the extraction.

  • Autism – lifelong complex developmental disorder , impairment in the individuals process information
  • deficits in a child’s ability to communicate, understand language, play, develop social skills and relate to others.
  • children with autism face challenges such as using language, using words creatively, using imagination and thinking abstractly.
  • this can affect understanding and use of language for communication
  • importance of supports based on concrete visual teaching aids is largely upheld.
  • Visual supports can be provided in different ways in all settings, school /home etc

Why use visual supports?

  • Part of everyones communication system
  • attract and hold student’s attention
  • enable the student to focus on message
  • make abstract concepts easier to understand
  • help express students thoughts.


  • Cohen 1998 – children with autism are visual rather than hearing/auditory learners. prefer alternative modes of communication, pictures. 
  • Hodgdon 2000 – when used correctly, visual supports allow the student with autism the freedom to engage in life, regardless of his or her impairment in communication
  • Visual supports help bring in structure, routine and sequence that many children with autism need to be able to carry on their daily activities.
  • students with autism experience a lot of difficulty processing language but processing and understanding visual supports is easier for them.
  • important to understand the unique nature of the need of the individuals who require this support
  • visual supports can attract and hold attention enabling student to focus on message and reduce anxiety, make abstract concepts more understandable and help prompt student + help them express their thoughts.
  • require more visual supports than those without autism however not all require the same level of visual support.
  • Quite often students don’t receive the visual support needed.
  • problem isnt that teachers refuse, just don know how to provide the visual supports.


Rao & Gagie, S.M & B, 2006. Learning Through Seeing and Doing: Visual Supports for Children with Autism. Teaching Exceptional Children, [Online]. Jul/Aug 2006, 26. Available at: [Accessed 11 June 2017].


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