Thursday, March 14, 2013

Will My Child Always Need To Have Pictures?

A Guest Post by Barbara Monday, DIGS, Inc. Executive Director
Boardmaker™ Picture Symbols by Mayer-Johnson 
Pictures, line drawings and photographs are all “symbols” of real objects, people or actions. Language is also symbolic. Words stand for objects, people, and actions. As language develops, words express more complex ideas, emotions and concepts. These words can be spoken or written. In this sense, using pictures is a language and pre-literacy skill.

As your child’s cognitive language skills grow, hopefully verbal language will follow. The use of pictures supports the child’s efforts to talk and does not inhibit it from occurring. As your child progresses, literacy or reading skills will be introduced at school. As these skills grow and your child is able to read the words, the use of pictures can be gradually faded out.

That’s not to say that the use of “visual” information will no longer be necessary. Some children with ASD may always require some visual support. Each student is different. Depending on the level of stress, anxiety or frustration with daily living issues the need for visual support may be different at different times. Just as the pictures provided structure and understanding, written messages, schedules, lists, graphic organizers, purchased organizers or calendars can continue to do the same on a higher level.

The ultimate goal is to teach each child to understand what his needs are and to participate in providing them at his own level of personal independence.