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The What
Visual Schedules
Reward Charts
Social Stories
Combinations
Talking Mats
The Targetty Thing
Passports
Other Ideas
What
Welcome to The What.   Now it's time to look at all the wonderful and creative things you can make and do to help your child.   I've been making these things for about seven years now, and there are a few things I've learned.

Individualise.   Supports can work 'off the peg', but they're never as good.   If you understand your child's autism, if you know how they think, what makes them tick, you can design your support accordingly.   If they like lining stuff up, make a reward chart where they line the pieces up as they achieve.   If they like sets, make a reward chart where completing the task completes a set of visual rewards.   Use symbols, pictures or words according to how they learn.

Individualised supports can target the specific problem your child has in an area.   A bog (excuse the pun) standard toileting chart will reward using the toilet, but what is it about toileting your child has a problem with?   Is it sitting on the toilet (sitting on a big hole is a bit of a bizarre concept)?   Is it that they can't be bothered?   Is it that they just don't get it?   Are they too easily distracted?   You need to assess, identify and then target the exact problem.

Motivation.   We all require motivation to do things.   Sometimes the motivation is the task itself, if its one we really enjoy, other times we require additional motivation.   This can be gaining or not losing something, or a combination of both.   I go to work because getting paid each month motivates me, and I know if I don't I won't be able to pay my mortgage and will lose my house.

TV ShowsYour child probably won't be worried about that sort of thing, but they may well have a very strong interest in something else that they find motivational.   It may be Peppa Pig, In The Night Garden or our friend Thomas, any of a whole host of children's TV shows, films and characters.   When we looked at the Why stuff, we learned many children with autism gain much pleasure from their special interests, sometimes it borders on obsession!

So use the special interest, its already there, it may well drive you potty and cost you a small fortune in toys, DVDs and magazines, so you might as well make it earn it's keep!   It can decorate reward charts, theme schedules, narrate social stories, and what about earning those toys, DVDs and magazines instead of just getting them?

Attention to detail.   You child will know if you get the detail wrong.   If Thomas is the wrong colour or Bart is taller than Homer, they may well reject your offering.   Take time to study your child's favourite show.   What is it they like about it?   Then take time to get the detail right on the support.   Also, it has to go up on the wall in your house or travel around with your child.   Other people will see it, so make it something you and your child can be proud of.

I have to admit to being a bit of a perfectionist when it come to visual supports.   I never think "I can't do that".   I think "this is what would work best, I can visualise it in my mind, now what do I have to do/learn/get in order to make it?".   I have taught myself all the skills I've needed through web tutorials and experimenting.   We'll have a look at some more of that when I get to The How.

Laminate.   Laminated supports are much more robust, wipe clean, and look much smarter.   Except for books.   If you're going to fold and use staples to bind a book properly, don't laminate the pages first.

Before we move on to some examples of visual supports, I have to apologise.   Most of the supports on this site are not available to download.   I know that would make your life easier, but I have my reasons.   Three of them to be precise!

1. The supports on this site were made for individual children.   I may have changed the names and faces for confidentiality reasons, but they are individualised for someone other than your child, therefore wouldn't work so well.

Me in prison!2. I want to teach you to make supports, that's why I've taken the time to create this site.   Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day, teach them to fish and you feed them and their family for life.   I want to teach you to fish.

3. Copyright.   I don't want to be sued!   I'm going to show you how to use your child's special interests to make individualised supports.   This will probably involve you using pictures from the web.   That's fine, but if I do it and let you download it, I'm distributing someone elses intellectual property.

You will be able to see examples of things I've made using various themes and characters, but you won't be able to print them out and use them.   I'm hoping this will stop me being asked to take them down by the copyright owners, but if they ask I will comply!

With that out of the way, on to the supports!