5 must-have visual sequences to improve routines at school and home

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a child brushing their teeth, and text titled "5 must-have visual sequences to improve routines at school and home"

Visual sequences are great when they are for a set routine that stays the same every time. Post these in the area where the routine occurs, so that it is consistent and provides predictability. Point to each picture as you talk about each step in the sequence.

Brushing Teeth

Many times, autistic children have difficulty brushing their teeth. This is often due to sensory issues. If they are hypersensitive to touch, putting a toothbrush in the mouth will likely cause stress. If you work with an occupational therapist, consulting with them can be super helpful. Another way to help is to use a visual sequence. This free brushing teeth visual sequence can be taped up to the mirror or wall in the bathroom. Just seeing it can help create a predictable routine. Start by modeling the steps and pointing to the pictures while you brush. Allow your child to play with and chew on the toothbrush. Video modeling is also really helpful in showing what do to. Watch favorite characters such as Elmo to increase motivation. You can also make your own video. Kids love to watch themselves!

examples of visual sequences for toileting, washing hands, and winter clothing

Toileting Routine

Toileting is another daily routine that can take a while to teach. But, there are ways to get started before your child or student is showing “readiness signs”. Read more about that here. One way to start is by posting a visual sequence at home and at school. Put on a ring for easy access or post it to the wall. I like to use Velcro so I can easily take the sequence down to point out each step. These free potty training visuals are a great place to start! For a more comprehensive potty training resource, click here.

pictures of the steps to potty training for children with autism and other special needs

Winter Clothing Visual Sequences

Organizing and putting on winter gear is tough for all preschoolers. Ask any preschool teacher! Using a visuals with winter clothing to show what order to put each item on will really help. If a child puts their boots on first, they aren’t going to be able to get their snow pants on. So, a predictable routine will help increase consistency. Another idea is to take pictures of each step and make your own visual sequence. Children love seeing their own pictures, and it often increases motivation.

Transitioning To And From The Bus

Transitioning to and from the bus is sometimes stressful for autistic children. Using visuals to create that predictable routine is always a win-win. These free social stories and visual cue cards will help you prep your students and children for the transition. Preparing ahead of time is key. Let your child or student know that the transition is coming, then let them hold the cue card during the transition.

visual sequence for getting on the bus

Washing Hands Visual Sequence

In my experience, washing hands can go one of two ways. My students either love playing in the water and don’t want to stop, or they do not want to touch the water. Sensory differences can cause both of those extremes. Create a clear sequence by showing the steps to washing hands in a visual format. Post these by all of the sinks that your child or student will be washing their hands. Create additional support by counting or singing a short song while washing hands. This will create a routine and increase the likelihood that the child will stop when it is time.

Bonus Visual Sequence Freebie

These free visuals for getting in the car and going to the store are also helpful to families. Punch a hole in the top left corner and put these on a ring. That keeps them organized and easy to access!

Grab the Home Visual Cue Cards here.

Watch the replay of the training on this topic now on YouTube!

Also, check out episode 5 of The Autism Little Learners Podcast for more information on using visual supports at home.

Be sure to grab the free Visual Supports Starter Set too!

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