Visual Cues Make Life Easier for Autistic Children

Elevated stress levels are very difficult for children with Autism. Audio and visual CD’s and DVD's that present soothing images and music are now used as highly effective ASD calming tools that reduce anxiety both at home and in the classroom.
By: David J Cowan Sr.
Jan. 13, 2010 - PRLog -- Visual cues play an important role in creating easier transitions for autistic children who find it difficult to move from one activity to another.  These cues range from simple instructive words to pictures, drawings, photos, flash cards, or videos.  Research shows that using a visual cue during transition time can decrease the child’s challenging behavior while increasing his/her ability to cope with the demands required by change.  (Schmit, Alper, Raschke, & Ryndak, 2000). For example, a study showed how the use of photos alerted one young autistic student whenever it was time for him to change classroom locations or activities by presenting him with a photo of his next location.  (Schmit et al, 2000).  This procedure allowed the child to actually see his next destination and provided him with the element of predictability, which is so important to individuals with autism.
Anyone suffering from stress knows how comforting it is to feel safe about the future.  Uncertainty often causes stress levels to accelerate into panic and anxiety in many people, but it is especially debilitating for autistic children.  This is why predictability is crucial in the transition stage.  Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) often have greater anxiety levels which can affect behavior during times of uncertainty and change.  In addition, students with ASD may not comprehend all of the verbal information that announces a transition.  Visual cues serve as reinforcements that clarify information, foster independence from adult prompting, and reassure the student that a familiar, safe experience lies ahead.  The use of visual cues also allows time for the student to prepare for transition, a technique that creates a soothing experience for the child and helps to shift his/her focus from the current activity to the next.  

Because children with ASD become easily distracted and anxious, calming techniques are essential in a classroom setting during all learning periods as well as transitions.  Dr. Judith Reaven of the University of Colorado at Denver Health Services Center confirms that children with ASD are at high risk for developing anxiety disorders and says that their anxiety symptoms “develop in much the same way anxiety develops in the general population.”  For this reason, many of the stress-reducing techniques used for the general population can also be applied in a classroom-learning environment for ASD students.  For instance, the popularity of relaxation tapes and videos has increased steadily over the years with people of all ages and lifestyles, including those with special needs.
Audio and visual CD’s and videos that present soothing images and music are now used as highly effective ASD calming tools that reduce anxiety both at home and in the classroom.  When enjoyed on a regular basis, they have the ability to re-train the physical body as well as the brain, acting as a positive reinforcement for calm behavior and emotions.  In the classroom, videos can be used as a background for lessons, or they can signal the approach of a transition.  One outstanding example of this type of video is Digital Aquarium, a series of serene underwater films depicting the beauty of exotic fish gliding gracefully across the screen amid verdant ocean flora.  Accompanied by tranquil music, these colorful videos appeal to the visual as well as the audio sense.  Board Certified Behavioral analysts report a positive effect upon anxious or unmotivated students with autism who have viewed Digital Aquarium’s relaxation videos.  Digital Aquarium is a safe, affordable therapeutic calming technique that complements ASD treatments and medication.  Parents and caregivers of children with autism also appreciate the soothing quality of these videos in their everyday personal lives.  For more information about autism and Digital Aquarium visit

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Based in Jupiter, FL the Digital Aquarium and Palm Beach Video are a custom video production company offering undersea relaxation video products and custom video production to small enterprises.
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Tags:Autism, Asd, Calming, Transition, Autism Resource, Calming Tool, Digital Aquarium, David J Cowan Sr
Industry:Education, Health, Medical
Location:Jupiter - Florida - United States
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