There are two parts of this statement that are equally important:
- First, the word always refers to the fact that we need to use visuals consistently, not just sometimes, and especially not just “when they are needed.” Students need lots of time with visuals throughout everyday so they learn how to use them and they learn to trust them. “When they are needed” usually means that a student is having a difficult time – often with transitions, sensory needs or self-regulation. This is not the time to introduce visuals or to bring out visuals that have hardly ever been used.
- Secondly, visuals take time to create, set-up, review and process. When you plan your day, remember to start with enough time to have the visuals you need created and ready. (Remember that if you don’t have a computer made visuals, a quick hand drawn sketch on a post-it can work as well.)Throughout the day, take time to refer to the schedule often – building familiarity and trust with the visuals. Finally, remember that students need time to process the information that is being presented visually. It is better to slow down and allow the student to navigate the day calmly with the support of visuals than to push them through more things with our words, bribes, threats or manipulation. Allowing them to navigate through the day with visuals leads to greater independence in the end.
Visuals: worth the time and effort.