Learning Visually

Using a Visual Problem-solving tool for Students with ADHD



What most parents and teachers observe in the student who is a visual learner and who has a diagnosis of ADHD are the following:

1. They are likely to have a very limited range of behavioural responses available when they reach a heightened state of anxiety or distress

2. Difficulty following rules and sanctions

3. Adapting to situations that are unfamiliar and unexpected

4. Recognising the effect of behaviour of others

5. Learning to self-monitor


As a Visual Learner, the student with ADHD will:

- need time to practice and learn how to use alternative strategies 

- need to have opportunities to visually reflect

Using a Social Autopsy

A Social Autopsy is tool that is generated by the student with support from the teacher/parent. Through conversation, the student identifies the social error or mistake and documents alternative solutions to the behaviour being displayed. According to Cohen (2012) a Social Autopsy is used to dissect social situations where there is a social mistake, it is supportive and solution focused, it is facilitated by the adult and provides a visual way to help the student process information which may lead to better understanding. Smith-Myles (2008) suggests the following questions when facilitating a Social Autopsy with the student:

     1. What happened?

     2. What was the social error?

     3. Who was hurt by the social error?

     4. What should be done to correct the error?

     5. What could be done next time?

The completed worksheet belongs to the student and should be stored in a way that is private to them and with easy access, in case they need to reflect and remind themselves on the solutions that they generated. Keeping the Social Autopsy in their diary may be a possibility! It would be useful for the teacher/parent to keep a copy and to make a time to review the Social Autopsy with the student. 


To see a demonstration of a Social Autopsy, look and listen to the video below. Enjoy!