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Autism Speaks Releases ATN Visual Supports Guide

Pictures, photographs and other visual supports can greatly improve communication for children, adolescents and adults who struggle with understanding or using language. Today, Autism Speaks is pleased to introduce Visual Supports and Autism Spectrum Disorders, a guide for parents, teachers and medical professionals.

This easy-to-use guide is for you if…

√ You are a parent, caregiver or professional who is looking for visual tools to help someone with autism communicate.
√ You have heard that visual supports may help your child, student or patient and want to know more about them.

The guide is particularly helpful for those who have autism and …

√ are non-verbal,
√ have difficulty understanding social cues,
√ have trouble following spoken instructions, or
√ are anxious or act out when presented with surprising or unfamiliar situations.

Visual Supports and Autism Spectrum Disorders was developed by Autism Treatment Network (ATN) clinicians and families who have experienced how visual supports can greatly improve communication, language comprehension, social interactions, daily transitions and adaptation to new situations for children and adolescents with ASD. Families who use visual supports also report decreases in challenging behaviors and increased compliance and independence.

With step-by-step instructions, this guide is designed for parents, caregivers, teachers and other professionals who may be unfamiliar with visual supports or who would like to use them more effectively.

“Expressive and receptive language skills are a common problem for children and adolescents on the autism spectrum,” says ATN medical director Dan Coury, M.D. “We’ve found that non-verbal communication methods such as visual supports improve their communication skills, and that this guide can help families with their daily routines.”

Visual Supports and Autism Spectrum Disorders is the newest in a series of ATN tool kits available for free download on the Autism Speaks website. Developed to help parents and medical professionals who work with children and adolescents with ASD, other toolkits include Should My Child Take Medicine for Challenging Behavior? and Take the Work Out of Blood Work. More toolkits are in development. A complete list can be found at www.autismspeaks.org/atn. Development of these tools is the product of on-going ATN efforts and was supported in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Research Program to the Massachusetts General Hospital to serve as the Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health (AIR-P), a program made possible through the Combating Autism Act (CAA). 

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