2nd April 2017 marks Autism Awareness Day, recognized around the world for raising awareness for individuals with autism. Affecting how individuals perceive the world, autism is a lifelong, neurological condition that affects how individuals interact with the world around them and is much more common than people think; affecting over 21.7 million people worldwide, and 1 in 68 children in the United States.
As a hidden disability, the disorder affects an individual’s ability to process everyday sensory information and the ability to communicate and interact with others, caused by a combination of genetic and environmental influences.
Visuals have always been an important factor for us here at DropTask, helping individuals to communicate and understand information according to their preferred style of working. According to ‘The Index of Learning Styles’, developed by Dr Richard Felder and Barbara Soloman, there are four dimensions of learning styles:
- Sensory – learners who prefer concrete, practical and procedural information.
- Visual – learners who prefer pictures and look for a visual representation of information.
- Active – learners who enjoy working in groups to solve problems.
- Sequential – learners who have information presented to them linearly, in an orderly manner.
A difficulty individuals with autism experience is having to process an overload of information on a daily basis, often resulting in missed communication, stress and anxiety. This is where visual learning comes in to play. The power of visuals enables us to easily see the big picture and significantly improves the understanding of events, which are sometimes misinterpreted as complex situations. When it comes to visual aids that help our learning and processing of information, approximately 65% of the population are in fact visual learners.
Whether it’s in the form of icons, logos, colors, shapes or symbols, visual imagery can also be used to communicate with individuals on the autism spectrum. A large amount of research indicates that visual ques allow us to better retrieve and remember information. This is due to our brain being mainly an image processor, and when visuals are concrete in our memory they become easier to remember.
Visual supports and how they help:
- Provide structure and routine
- Encourage independence
- Help to reduce anxiety and stress
- Improve understanding
- Offer opportunities to interact with others
In support of Autism Awareness Day 2017, we’ve put together an infographic that highlights how DropTask can help present key information in a way that works for all learners, and every member of your team.