Many teams we support struggle to keep all the visual supports they use for their students organized and readily accessible. We’ve found a few strategies that really seem to help:
Consistent picture sizes
If you are using picture symbols, create a template to ensure they are all the same size. This can make storage a lot easier. Pre-made templates are available using programs such as Boardmaker™ or on websites such as Do2Learn.
Create enough duplicate symbols so that you have one for each situation in which you would use the symbol. This is really helpful if you’re using a visual schedule and the same event may happen more than once a day.
Store the symbols in a way that protects them and in which you can find them easily. A clear box with file cards to put away the symbols alphabetically might work for you. We really like the use of a binder (8 ½ x 11) with plastic slide holders. Symbols of the size 1 ½” by 1 ½” that are laminated and have a circle of soft Velcro on the back fit into the plastic sleeves very nicely. And the 20 slides per page make it easy to quickly scan and find the symbol you want. You can put the slides away categorically (e.g. a page of food symbols, a page of activity symbols, etc.) or alphabetically.
Build a time into your schedule to put away symbols at the end of the day. This is actually a nice activity to do with your student as it models organizational skills and gives you an opportunity to review his day with him.
Keep them handy
Store visuals that are used for specific subjects or activities, in a binder or container that is used for the activity, so they are always available when you need them
Listen to your student
Carry a notepad to jot down other visuals you might need as you go through the day. Remember, if you have a persistent problem , the student is asking the same question repeatedly, or you find yourself saying the same thing over and over again, this may indicate the need for a visual support!
Ensure that there is time in your schedule to create the necessary visual supports or find out who is available to make the supports for you. Visual supports are a cornerstone of successful programming for a large percentage of those with ASD.