Visual Learning

Everyone has a different learning style, meaning – they have a way that they learn and retrieve information that may vary from others. When working with children, teens, and adults on the autism spectrum, it is important to know how they prefer to learn information. Many of the clients I have worked with love visual aids, whether our schedule for the session is portrayed through images or there are pictures accompanying their favorite song lyrics to assist with reading and comprehension.

Temple Grandin, a professor of animal science at Colorado State University and world-renowned autism spokeswoman, eloquently described her way of learning and thinking in an article called “Thinking In Pictures.” This article struck me, as Temple’s visual mind can accomplish incredible feats focusing on fine details, seeing problems before they happens and understanding different perspectives – including those of the livestock she works with.

For visual learners, verbal language can be complex and hard to understand, especially when dealing with words that aren’t concrete, e.g. emotions or prepositions. If the visual learner has an image connected to the abstract words, the concept itself becomes easier and the person’s vocabulary expands.

There is a quote by Albert Einstein that embodies the importance of learning styles:

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

It may take extra time getting to know a person’s learning preference but at the end of the day, the benefit vastly outweighs the effort.


You can read Prof. Grandin’s article here: 

She also has a wonderful ted talk explaining the importance of diverse thinking, which you can find here:


Shannon Flaherty

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