Improving Visual Motor Skills with Visual Support

Out of the four learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and reading/writing), children on the autism spectrum often find themselves to learn best by visuals. By applying visual support, children will be able to improve their visual motor skills.

Using visual support allows children on the autism spectrum to process information by constructing mental images. Children are better able to follow directions and identify tasks using visual support, which includes images, objects, and/or text. Seeing information rather than saying it helps them retain knowledge and improve sensory perception. Children can also utilize visual support as tools to stay organized and follow their daily routine. Visual support is recommended to both parents and healthcare professionals to help children enhance their visual thinking skills.


There are a variety of ways for parents to utilize visual support, which can either be made at home or accessed on programs and apps. For example, parents can take photos or cut out print media to arrange visual support appropriate to their child’s needs. Parents and children may then use those visual strategies, such as visual timetables and token boards, to identify each activity with a certain picture and show sequential steps. Using such visual strategies will allow for children to improve their visual motor skills and thereby coordinate movement, improve perception, and develop visual processing skills. 

For further ideas on improving visual motor skills, AUesome has included a few activities that incorporate visual support:

  • Visual Schedules
  • Token Board
  • Memory games
  • Picture games
  • Sensory activities
  • Matching shapes
  • Puzzles
  • Hidden picture games
  • Building blocks

A recent study conducted by UC Davis Health at the UC Davis MIND Institute has found that an unusual visual inspection of objects can predict whether an infant will be identified on the autism spectrum. While unusual visual inspection of objects was indicative of autism, it was never predictive of it in infants as young as nine months. The study finds that such unusual visual inspections may indicate autism early in life than the social communication symptoms, which are considered the most often. As Sally Ozonoff, professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the MIND Institute at UC Davis and principal investigator of the study, expressed: 

Findings from our study suggest that unusual visual exploration of objects may be a valuable addition to early screening and diagnostic tools for ASD.
- Sally Ozonoff