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People with autism tend to have strengths in visual recognition and perception (Mayes & Calhoun, 2008; Meilleur, et al, 2014). Due to these strengths, visual supports, an evidence-based practice, help to make the world, including the environment, instructions, academics, social situations, emotional and behavioral interventions, more clear to an individual with autism. This AIM will explain what visual supports (VS) are, how to create them, and when and how to use them.

Estimated Time to Complete: 2 1/2 hours

  • What's Included
  • 25 pages
  • Pre/post-assessments
  • Optional $25 certficate
  • Define visual supports
  • Describe how visual supports can be used to assist the understanding of individuals with autism
  • Explain how to create visual supports
  • Describe how to teach and use visual supports
  • Identify types of visual supports

Module Authors

Wendy Szakacs is an OCALI Regional Consultant for northeast /eastern Ohio. She develops evidence-based materials, provides technical assistance and professional development leading projects in social competence, bullying, behavior, communication, and executive function. Szakacs collaborates with regional partners in the creation and presentation of professional development to local school district staff and families. She has presented at local, state, and national conferences on various topics about autism spectrum disorder, including comprehensive program planning, structured teaching, social competence, challenging behavior, and executive function.

Denise Sawan Caruso, MA is a licensed speech/language pathologist in the state of Ohio. She has over 40 years experience working with children and adults with challenging behaviors, including autism spectrum disorder. She currently provides consultations, inservices and workshops to schools and families living and working with individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. She has presented nationally on behavior, autism and parent/professional collaboration. She has served as a member of the Autism Society of Ohio board of directors for twenty years and was appointed as an ad hoc board member with the Autism Society of America.

Sheila M. Smith, Ph.D., is the Senior Director for the Research & Impact Office at OCALI, working over the past 13 years to advance OCALI’s state- and system-wide capacity to improve outcomes for people with disabilities to live their best lives. She led the 2007 development of OCALI’s Autism Internet Modules (AIM) project, linking research to real life. She received the 2007 CEC Division on DD Herbert J. Prehm Student Presentation Award. Smith has held positions as professional development specialist, administrator, university instructor, and teacher across seven states. Her numerous presentations and publications reflect her wide range of experiences within the field of special education.

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