Visual Supports: Sources for Symbols for Receptive and Expressive Communication
Contributed by Beverly Vicker, M.S., CCC-SLP
Visual symbols such as objects, photos, drawings and text can support the expressive and receptive communicative needs of many individuals on the autism spectrum disorder. Expressive communication can be supported through various visual mediums as the person’s instructional and communication needs and abilities change. Comprehension information can be presented in formats that include topic communication displays, instructional video, choice displays, sequences, social stories, schedules of events or activities, behavioral reminders or guidelines, visually depicted recipes, and graphic organizers. In addition to the visual resources listed by distributor below are a number of books, product and websites. Although the focus is on permanent dynamic or static symbols, a reference for manual signs is also provided to support a total communication approach.
The materials listed below can be obtained from the Center for Disability Information (CeDIR) at the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community. The staff will also be happy to assist patrons in locating other materials.
- To contact CeDIR, call 1-800-825-4733 (toll free in Indiana) or 1-812-855-9396 (voice/TTY).
- Their website is located at https://www.iidc.indiana.edu/LIBRARY.
- Only Indiana residents may check out materials either on site or by phone call and mail delivery.
- Indiana residents are responsible for mailing materials back to the CeDIR library.
Arwood, E. L. & Kaulitz. (2007). Learning with a visual brain in an auditory world: Visual language strategies for individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Shawnee Mission, KS: Autism Asperger Publishing Company.
Beukelman, D., & Miranda, P. (2005). Augmentative and alternative communication: Supporting children and adults with complex communication needs. (3rd ed.) Baltimore, MD: Paul Brookes Publishing Company.
Bondy, A. & Frost, L. (2002). A picture’s worth: PECS and other visual communication strategies in autism. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House.
Bornstein, H., Saulnier, K.L., & Hamilton, L.B. (Eds.). (1983). Comprehensive Signed English dictionary. Washington, DC: Gallaudet Press.
Cohen, M. (2007). Visual supports for people with autism: A guide for parents and professionals. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine House.
Hodgdon, L. (1995). Visual strategies for improving communication (Vol. 1): Practical supports for school and home. Solana Beach, CA: Mayer-Johnson Company.
Hodgdon, L. (1999). Solving behavior problems in autism: Improving communication with visual strategies. Solana Beach, CA: Mayer-Johnson Company.
Savner, J. L. & Myles, B. S. (2002). Making visual supports work in the home and community. Shawnee Mission, KS: Autism Asperger Publishing Company.
Zysk, V. & Notbohm, E. (2004). 1001 Great ideas for teaching and raising children with autism spectrum disorder. Arlington, TX: Future Horizons.
- Computer images from a digital camera or a scanner can supplement commercial resources. These can be used as a primary source for visual symbols since such use would allow customization and personalization of visual images.
- Video productions are increasingly becoming a source for visual support/assistance with comprehension and instruction; many students with ASD seem very responsive to this medium. Check educational, speech and hearing, and autism distributor catalogues for videos/DVDs supporting social skills, emotions, and other skills areas. Some of these same catalogues will have print/picture materials that can be used for instruction.
- Many examples of graphic organizers are contained in materials that can usually be purchased in a school supply store or can be located on line through sites such as http://eduplace.com/graphicorganizer/ or http://edhelper.com/teachers/graphic_organizers.htm,
- References related to augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) programming are located in the communication and augmentative communication bibliographies available on the website of the Indiana Resource Center for Autism (https://www.iidc.indiana.edu/irca/). Also of relevance is the article entitled Visual Schedules and Choice Boards: Avoid Misinterpretation of their Primary Functions.
Other Websites with Useful Information, Pictures, or Links
- Augmentative Resources. http://www.augresources.com/
- Do2Learn. http://www.dotolearn.com/
- Beyond Autism. http://trainland.tripod.com/
- Pics4Learning. http://pics.tech4learning.com/
Distributors of Visual Symbol Materials
The following listings are for information purposes only; no endorsement of companies, distributors, or products is implied by Indiana University, by the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, or by the Indiana Resource Center for Autism.
|Attainment Company |
P.O. Box 930160
Verona, WI 53593-0160
Phone: (800) 327-4269
Fax: (800) 942-3865
Products: Pictured materials, CD, and DVD sources for picture cues for daily living, community access and following directions; Boardmaker also available.
|Different Roads to Learning |
37 East 18th St., 10th Floor
New York, NY 10003
Products: Bumble Bee DVDs-Action Words and Vocabulary Builder. DVDs to teach simple signing, individual picture cards for comprehension instruction.
|Don Johnston Company |
26799 W. Commerce Drive
Volvo, IL 60073
Phone: (800) 999-4660
Fax: (847) 740-07326
Products: Software - Picture It, PIX Writer, Writing with Symbols, Picture This, Clicker 5, Kidspiration.
|Gallaudet University Bookstore|
800 Florida Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20002-3695
Products: Pictures for American Sign Language and Signed English concepts and vocabulary are depicted within books. Book sales from various sources are outsourced to Amazon.com. Gallaudet University Press publications can be viewed at http://gupress.gallaudet.edu.
5353 South 960 East, Suite 200
Salt Lake City, UT 84117
Products: Clicker 5, Boardmaker, Overboard, Writing with Symbols.
1720 Corporate Circle
Petaluma, CA 94954
Phone: (800) 899-6687
Products: Software – IntelliKeys, Overlay Maker,and Math Pad (allows math to be done directly on one’s computer).
|Jessica Kingley Publishers|
400 Market Street, Suite 400
Philadelphia, PA, 19106
Products: ISPEEK at Home; ISPEEK at School.
6526 Darlington Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15217
Phone: (412) 521-8552
Fax: (412) 521-8556
Products: Eye-cons (a collection of drawings on CD-ROM or customized printout).
PO Box 1579
Solana Beach, CA 92075-7579
Phone: (800) 588-4548
Fax: (858) 550-0449
Products: Boardmaker; Picture Communication Symbols (PCS) and PCS books. Software - Visual Essentials, Places You Go, Things You Do; tool box of clip art; video sign language dictionary.
|Pyramid Educational Products Inc.|
13 Garfield Way
Newark, DE 19713
Phone: (888) 255-6089
Fax: (302) 894-9156
Products: Pics for PECS picture CD.
|Silver Lining Multimedia, Inc.|
P.O. Box 544
Peterborough, NY 03458
Products: Picture This; Places You Go, Things You Do; Functional Living Skills; School Routines and Rules, Visual Foods; and Visual Essentials.
|Slater Software, Inc.|
351 Badger Lane
Guffey, CO 80820
Fax: (719) 479-2254
Products: Software - Picture It (adds symbols to text); PixWriter.
Products: Numerous types and sizes of timers: enter “time timer” in search engine.
Vicker, B. 2009. Visual supports: Sources for symbols for receptive and expressive communication. Bloomington, IN: Indiana Resource Center for Autism.