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Visual Support (VS)

Children with ASD often have superior visual-spatial skills and poor auditory memory skills. Visual supports (VS) provide concrete supports utilizing the strength in visual processing (Rollins, 2014).


Visual supports (VS) are concrete cues that provide information about an activity, routine, or expectation; they may also support skill demonstration. Visual supports can provide assistance across activities and settings, and can take on a number of forms and functions. These include but are not limited to: photographs, icons, drawings, written words, objects, environmental arrangement, schedules, graphic organizers, organizational systems, and scripts. Visual supports are commonly used to: 1) organize learning environments; 2) establish expectations around activities, routines, or behaviors (e.g., visual schedules, visual instructions, structured work systems, scripts, power cards); 3) provide cues or reminders (e.g., conversation and initiation cues, choice making supports, visual timers, finished box); and 4) provide preparation or instruction (e.g., video priming, video feedback).

Visual supports meet evidence-based criteria with 18 single case design studies. According to the evidence-based studies, this intervention has been effective for toddlers (0–2 years) to young adults (19–22 years) with ASD. Visual supports can be used effectively to address social, communication, behavior, play, cognitive, school-readiness, academic, motor, and adaptive skills.

Brief adapted from

Hume, K. (2013). Visual supports (VS) fact sheet. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Research Summary

Ages (yrs) Skills Settings Outcome
0-22 Social, communication, behavior, play, cognitive, school readiness, academic, motor, adaptive Home, school, community
The information found in the Research Summary table is updated yearly following a literature review of new research and this age range reflects information from this review.

Outcomes:     Evidence-based     Emerging     No evidence     Comprehensive

Steps for Implementation


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