Using Visual Interventions to Help Your Child at Home

Independence is a goal all parents have for their child. This post addresses ways to help children independently organise items, help around the house, and follow a routine by using visual interventions.

1. Use Defined Containers – Toothbrush holders, toy boxes, and laundry baskets are examples of containers designed for a specific purpose. These containers allow for broad organisation concepts such as knowing dirty clothes belong in a laundry basket. Some items such as cutlery trays can be purchased with additional details. Select models that clearly define where materials belong. For example, cutlery trays with locations for spoons, forks, and knives help children sort cutlery correctly.

2. Give Containers a Purpose – Baskets, plastic containers, and decorative fabric bags can be used to hold a variety of objects. Place containers in a specific location for a specific purpose. This will remind children to complete tasks. For example, a basket in the hall can remind children to take off their shoes and put them in a specific location.

3. Use templates – If containers are not clearly defining a space, or children are having trouble recognising what goes in a location, create an outline/template of the object. Put the template in the location where the item should go. For example, use outlines of a plate, knife and fork on placemats so children learn to lay the table.

4. Use Photographs, Drawings, or Words – Another way to clarify where objects belong is to use photographs, drawings, or words depending on the child’s abilities. Use digital photographs, online images, or drawings to create visuals. For example, use drawings of food and water to indicate where a pet’s food and water bowls belong and to help children complete tasks independently.

5. Set Timers – Timers are a simple way for children to understand how long they have before they finish an activity and start a new one. Whether using a timer with sand, a dial, or digital numbers, children have a clear understanding of how much time is left. Dial and digital timers may also have bells which serve as an auditory reminder for children.

6. Create timetables – Understanding the sequence of steps for after school, bed time, and other routines can be difficult for many children. A photograph, drawing, or word timetable showing the steps is a helpful way to indicate expectations and maintain a consistent routine. Timetables help children become more independent through decreased verbal prompts.

7. Use Colours or Drawings on Items – For children who are working on skills, but have trouble with specific aspects of a task, use guides such as colour coding or drawn visuals to help them complete the skill independently. For example, a laminated circle with red on one side and green on the other that can be blue tacked to the dishwasher to show children if the dishes are dirty or clean. Another example is an arrow on a clear watering can to indicate how high to fill it.

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