Visual Supports

The sequences of events which support movement through navigation of a specific environment can be supported through the use of visual cues. These cues, which act as triggers to direct our attention to help us know that a shift in what we are doing is being asked of us can be visible to some but not to others. Photographic evidence of what is being communicated by the environment is more readily available these days due to the use of phones and iPads. Taking point of view shots and then sitting down with the individual to ‘talk’ or comment on top of the photo about what can be seen is helpful in linking details together to support these shifts through circling the triggers within the photo that can be seen more easily when it is represented in 2D versus 3D e.g. the positioning of objects that have been placed by others for you to pay attention to and then moved in preparation for the next shift of attention. As a therapist, being in that environment at the time things are happening can assist in documenting the cues that are provided incrementally. These photos can be especially helpful in passing on information to others to help them understand the spatial detail of what is and has been happening.

Documenting sequences of photographs and storing them within the individuals iPads can be extremely helpful for vocabulary during challenging behaviours or during times of distress about confusion of how to communicate certain details when there are no visuals or contextual pieces of information to help try to explain a higher level concept that is understood movement wise but isn’t verbally ever discussed by that individual. Showing how to search through google images can help support exploration of a topic through the use of photographs so that they can learn to express themselves when ‘they’ are in control of the exact design and stye of the visual imagery being represented, so that it suits exactly what they are / were trying to communicate.

Having discussion with individuals about what can be seen within a photograph and what is present in online choices versus what is positioned in front of them in the real world can help develop greater understanding of how to communicate non-verbally through the small movement and choice of object types and how to use timing of your own body positioning when touching something e.g. pointing to numbers on a microwave to communicate needs in a multi-modal manner.


Michael Freeman – Photography books

Craft & Vision – David Duchemin – Drawing the Eye: Creating stronger images through visual mass

Craft & Vision – David Duchemin – The Visual Voice: Find your voice, express your vision, make stronger photographs.