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Create A System For Effective Visual Supports · Mrs. P’s Specialties


It can be challenging to teach students how to effectively use visual supports and communicate boards when they’re in the habit of grabbing or playing with visuals. We know the student needs visual support, but we must restructure the system to help them be able to use or access the supports. Read on for tips on creating an effective system that allows students to use the necessary visuals.

System For Effectively Using Visual Supports with special needs students

Why You Need A Better System For Visual Supports

Many of our students need visual supports, but have some behaviors that interfere with their ability to use the visuals effectively. For example, you might have a student who flips or taps any visual that isn’t taped down.

While we are able to tape down some visuals, it doesn’t work for all of the different types of visual supports we use across the school day.

Use plexiglass to improve the structure

Enter…. Plexiglass!

Photo of the visual supports under the plexiglass on student desk

The plexiglass pictured above was ordered from Amazon, but you could also get it at any local home improvement store.  We used command strips and Velcro dots to adhere it to the desk.

Using Velcro and/or command hooks allows us to easily switch out language boards and visuals underneath.

Use Velcro and/or command hooks to attach the plexiglass to the desk.

Tip: Before attaching the plexiglass to the desk, lightly sand the edges and corners to make sure there aren’t any sharp areas.

Using the plexiglass has been extremely beneficial for our students that are in the habit of playing with loose visuals. We have seen huge gains in the student’s ability to communicate, make requests, and participate in lessons just by adding this layer of support.

Benefits Of Using Plexiglass With Visuals Supports

  • Easy to switch out visuals
  • Can be quickly cleaned or disinfected
  • Use dry-erase to write over the visuals. For example, the work for card can be underneath the plexiglass and you can give students their stars or happy faces by writing on the plexiglass. Easily erase the marks with a tissue.

We use the work for card below. Find it for FREE in my freebie library. Sign up for free HERE if you aren’t already on my email list.

Create A System For Effective Visual Supports · Mrs. P's Specialties
  • You can also work on single-finger pointing with students. This is especially helpful for students who will likely use a communication device in the future. The benefit of using the plexiglass to target a single-finger point it you can easily adjust the spacing between visuals.
Create A System For Effective Visual Supports · Mrs. P's Specialties

When you begin working on pointing with a single finger only, space the visual supports out under the plexiglass. As the student makes progress on accurately touching one visual at a time, move the visual supports closer together.

Which visuals to use under the plexiglass

While you can use any visuals your students need, here are some suggestions for supports that you can easily slide under the plexiglass.

  • Yes and no symbols
  • Work for or token economy system materials
  • Core or language board
  • Specific visuals for different groups. For example, we use different language boards throughout morning meeting. We stack the boards under the plexiglass in the order they’ll be needed during morning meeting. Then, just slide the top visual board out after using it.
  • Help & bathroom communication visuals
  • Visuals that you use to help model language or that help students understand what you are saying to them. For example, a picture of a pencil that you can point to when you say, “Get pencil.”

Read more about effectively using visual supports:

Use Visual Supports To Improve Behavior

Use Visuals To Modify & Support Lessons

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