Visual Supports

Visual supports are concrete cues that support a student in their understanding of their environment, directions, expectations, a task, the schedule, changes, etc. They come in many different forms, but can be placed into three main categories External link opens in new window or tab. : visual boundaries, visual schedules, and visual cues.

Visual Support



  • Organization of the room
  • Covering materials not in use


  • Whole class schedule
  • Individual schedule
  • Activity schedule
  • First/Then


  • Checklists
  • Choice menu
  • Instructions
  • Graphic Organizers
  • Labels

Visual supports also take many different forms and are NOT just pictures! Visual supports can include:

  • Physical organization (e.g., room set up, task bin work systems, etc.)
  • Actual objects
  • Miniature of object
  • Part of an object
  • Real photo
  • Icon or Symbol
  • Text-based

Choosing an appropriate visual support requires knowledge of a student's developmental level and what type of support they can access independently.

Benefits of Visual Supports

Visual supports are beneficial for students for a variety of reasons:

  • Provide structure.
  • Increase independence in an activity.
  • Increase awareness and understanding of changes thus decreasing anxiety.
  • Increase understanding and comprehension.
  • When something is said verbally, the words "disappear". A visual provides a permanent product the student can refer to for reminders.
  • When a student is upset, agitated, or otherwise escalated behaviorally, ability to comprehend verbal language decreases and can cause additional frustration. Visuals reduce reliance on words.