Utilizing Graphic Organizers as a Visual Support

Graphic organizers provide excellent visual supports for so many students on the Autism Spectrum. Read about how I use graphic organizers to support behavior skills for my special education students.

If you have done any teaching this decade I'm positive you've heard all about graphic organizers. They're seriously a great tool for teaching all kinds of students to understand academic concepts. Did you know you can use graphic organizers for behavior as well?

Graphic organizers are one of my very favorite tools for teaching students appropriate behavior and helping them take ownership of their behavior. Today I'm going to share 4 of my absolute FAVORITE ways to utilize graphic organizers to impact the behavior of your students every day.
Venn diagrams are a perfect way to teach students with Autism appropriate behaviors. In this example, activities for school and home are compared, but the possibilities are seriously endless!

1. Venn Diagram
Sure, you've used a Venn Diagram to teach your students the differences and similarities between apples and oranges, but have you thought about utilizing a Venn Diagram to teach your students what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior? What behavior is acceptable for home and which are acceptable at home?

I love utilizing Venn Diagrams to teach these skills! It gives our students a visual representation and an point of reference for these skills.

Use Venn Diagrams to teach students appropriate and inappropriate behaviors for classroom routines. This graphic organizer provides great visual support for students with Autism.

I love to take a Venn Diagram and slip it into a sheet protector. It makes a portable and usable diagram for any situation. This is one I set up for appropriate and inappropriate behavior for playing a game with peers.

Utilizing a cause and effect board is a great way to show students that their actions have consequences. It is a perfect visual support for any student with Autism or behavioral challenges!

2. Cause and Effect
A cause and effect graphic organizer seriously reminds me of a first/then chart, except that I'm not using it as a behavior reminder. Instead, in this instance, I'm using the cause and effect graphic organizer to help teach students consequences to behavior.

For example, I can use a cause and effect graphic organizer and show students that when they have questions, they can raise their hands. We can show our students the appropriate choices they can make when they have urges in the classroom. I LOVE using this tool in my classroom. For some of my older students I simply laminate the cause and effect chart and write in either a cause or an effect and we brainstorm the other.

Cause and effect cards teach students them how their behavior has a consequence. These are a must for any special education classroom.

I use these cause and effect behavior cards to teach students the effect of both their positive and negative behaviors as well as explaining rules that are hard for my students to understand (think it's cold outside so you need to wear a jacket).

Giving our students a way to organize the sequence of routines is imperative. I love to begin by showing them the routines, then build to having them put the routine in order.

3. Sequencing Organizers
I love using Sequencing Organizer to show students how to complete a specific school related chain of behaviors. I love this set for teaching students to get their lunch in the classroom. I will often print these half size and keep them on a ring in my classroom. This tool is a great reference for students who are emerging with practicing skills independently.

Providing visual supports and organizing routines for students with Autism helps us teach them how to complete routines in a systematic way.

Situation menus are a graphic organizer for behavior that allows students to reflect on behavior or for teachers to proactively teach coping strategies.

4. Behavior Menu
Once I've been able to teach my students a lot of the appropriate behaviors for school, the classroom, and routines, a behavior menus is one of my favorite tools. I use this as an organizer with my students where we will jot down a situation that could occur at school. Then, beneath the situation we jot down all of the possible options, even the ones that may not be appropriate. After we've listed every possible option, my student (and I) go back with a highlighter and color in the BEST choice they could make for the situation.

This is a great reflection tool as well as a preteaching tool.

Graphic organizers are a great tool for teaching special education students appropriate behavior. These 4 graphic organizers are simple to use in any classroom!

Do you use any graphic organizers to support behavior in your classroom? Drop me a comment and tell me about it! I seriously can't get enough of graphic organizers!


  1. I love this. My students do great in our room (for the most part), but in unstructured situations they fall apart. This is a great way to work on those behaviors that are causing them problems. Thanks you for all your useful information!

    1. You are so welcome! I'm glad you're able to find a use for graphic organizers for behavior!


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