Investigating the Effects of Visual Support Strategies Regarding the Compliance of Early Childhood Students with Disabilities

Date of Award

Fall 12-17-2020

Document Type

Project (696 or 796 registration)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Special Education


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Ximena Suarez-Sousa


COVID-19, visual support strategies, challenging behavior, early childhood, relationships, resources


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of visual support strategies on increasing the compliance of students with disabilities, as well as their peers, within an inclusive preschool setting. Visual support interventions focused on the classroom routines of circle time and playtime. Data would have been collected from two preschool classrooms in a rural Minnesota community.

This study was unable to be carried out due to the COVID-19 pandemic which closed schools and transferred all school practices to a distance learning format. The study was then transitioned to becoming an auto-ethnography study that focused on the question, “What was my teaching experience during the COVID-19 school closure crisis?” Educator journals collected personal accounts of teaching during a global pandemic in a distance format.

Analysis of educator journals highlighted four important themes: relationships, resources, family needs, and accessibility. The theme of relationships highlighted the importance of collaboration, student connections, communication, flexibility, and gratitude. The resources used during teaching through COVID-19 were focused on content, innovation, and leadership. When examining family needs, the common threads were stress, feasibility, and uncertainty. Accessibility to technology, essential services, and safety proved both beneficial and challenging during these unprecedented times.

Recommendations for practice that surfaced from this auto-ethnographic study included emphasizing relationships as a top priority, utilizing resources to stream-line teaching practices, recognizing family needs, and helping to provide essential services to the community.

Abstract only: No full text available.