Use Visual Supports to Improve Behavior and Classroom Management

Visual supports are LIFE in special education programs! They are helpful for both the students and the staff in the classroom. Here are some tips on ways to use visual supports to improve behavior and classroom management.

Visual supports are LIFE in special education programs! They are helpful for both the students and the staff in the classroom. Here are some tips on ways to use visual supports to improve behavior and classroom management.


Let's begin by making sure we are all on the same page with what a visual support can look like. Some think only pictures can be a visual support, but that isn't true. A visual is anything that supports a student's learning, behavior or communication just by existing. It can be a a photo, a picture, a symbol, an object, text, templates, colors, etc.

By integrating visuals into our school day and classroom, we have seen an increase in communication, independence, comprehension and have smoother transitions. We have also seen a decrease in behaviors and have had less questions/confusion with both staff and students.

Prompt Dependency

Prompt dependency is when students wait for a prompt even when they know and/or can do the next step.



Visuals can be a great part of your plan to reduce prompting. Click the link below to read how visuals can be used to reduce prompt dependency:




Prevent Behaviors

 To reduce and prevent behaviors, we use visual such as schedules and social stories. Here are some examples of how we use visuals for behavior.

We tape visual reminders on desk and work spaces. For this strategy, I suggest choosing one or two visuals only. Otherwise, the area becomes visually cluttered and distracting. I would also suggest that you change the visual up at least once a month. Students will begin tuning it out leaving the visual ineffective if it isn't changed up. 





Use schedules to preset students for their school day so they know what to expect. Schedules are also great for building independence. Teach students where the activities happen and teach them to check their schedule after each task. 

Schedules can be made up of objects, pictures, photos, text or a combination of all of them. Here are some of the ones we use in our classroom. Click the photos to see the set up close. The picture and written schedules are from Autism Classroom Resources






We also use a token economy system in our classroom. Both the work for card and the picture of the reinforcers that the students are trying to earn are visual supports. 

We use a variety of systems in our class. For example, we use work for cards, collection cups and dry erase strips. (see below)





Support Learning


Templates such as graphic organizers and sequencing strips are fantastic for supporting learning... for breaking down abstract concepts in a way that allows students to better understand it. Here are some examples of ones we use in our classroom:

For students who struggle with reading and acting on what they have read, we pair a word with a picture . As the student progresses, we increase the text and decrease the pictures. Click HERE to read more about how and why we do this.



We also use graphic organizers in math instruction to help students understand that addition is combining two sets. Click HERE or the picture below to read about the steps we use with the visual support.





Don't forget, visuals are great for the staff members that work in our programs, too! We support staff with schedules, examples, to do lists, break and responsibility expectations, etc. Click HERE or the link below to read more about visual supports for staff.





Visual supports are LIFE in special education programs! They are helpful for both the students and the staff in the classroom. Here are some tips on ways to use visual supports to improve behavior and classroom management.







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