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Hot Topic Blog - Communication


Karen Sadler, M Ed, LBS-1 from Orland Park, IL

January 2014



It started as a project to create a tool that promoted organized and consistent use of visual supports for individuals with special needs (e.g., pictures used in Picture Exchange Communication Systems, tokens used in behavioral systems, etc.). It became an extensive tool that relieved stress for students, parents, and staff while promoting successful communication. Ultimately, it evolved into a way to employ students with disabilities and return the proceeds to organizations within the special needs community.

My story began with a little guy named Sam. When Sam showed up at our school with his big smile and his even bigger list of visual support needs, I knew we had to spring into action. Unfortunately, I also knew that getting Sam the necessary supports might take a few days, and that was unacceptable.

That night I went home and brainstormed. I wondered, “How could we be more proactive in providing necessary visual supports for our students as efficiently and effectively as possible?” I knew that appropriate, positive supports help set the daily tone for student success.


At home, I sat staring at hundreds of messy visual supports and picture cards. While sorting the piles of visual supports into categories, I realized that we had made multiples of the same common picture cards but had lost them in the mess and kept making new ones.

I was determined to create a proactive organizational system. No more wasting time hunting through baggies and binders for schedule cards. No more stressful pressure to create, print, cut, laminate, and assemble visual supports while the student was left waiting.

I envisioned:     

  • A personalized filing system based on the individual needs of students and professionals
  • The ability to visually scan all supports in a single glance
  • Multiples of common picture cards and visuals secured within durable poly bags
  • A perfectly-sized box for mobility and storage


Like sugar plums dancing in my head, I imagined the perfect solution to our visual supports problem. After many trips to the craft store and some good old fashioned cut and paste skills, the first Success Box was created.


The Success Box was a success! Our entire staff now had instant access to the visual supports they needed at any point throughout the day. The stress of a missing support was reduced, and the consistent usage of necessary visual supports increased. It was clear that this organizational storage system was a great tool for colleagues and parents who wanted a solution to the overwhelming problem of organizing and managing visual supports at school, at home, and in the community.

The original Success Box Organizational Storage System was born and included:

  • 36 custom-manufactured, hole-punched tab-bags (ten times more durable than an average baggie) with extra wide, top-zip, premium slide mechanisms
  • 40 double-sided tape squares for quick, easy assembly
  • 4 blank division tab-cards for personalized categorization
  • A durable, clear-coated storage box perfectly sized for the desk or shelf
  • An optional velcro strap/handle for travelling

Each Success Box also includes the booklet, “Organizing and Storing Your Visual Supports,” which is full of resources and how-to’s. Recently, we added the tote-sized Traveler Companion Binder for even greater mobility. This comes with eight tab-bags and ten double-sided tape squares. This addition is perfect for day trips, daycare and babysitter visits, as well as sleepovers.

The Success Box was recently featured as a top 10 gift in Autism Parenting Magazine.


From the start I envisioned a company created to “give back.” Teaming up with the Easter Seals Adult Vocational Program, the assembling of the Success Box provides meaningful employment for adults with autism spectrum disorders. In addition, a major portion of the proceeds are returned directly to organizations such as The Autism Program.

Thank you for listening to my story. It is my sincere desire that the Success Box organizational system continues to reduce stress and provide positive, consistent support in the daily lives of parents and professionals when responding to an individual’s visual supports needs.

See more information at: Special Learning Launches Its New “Innovators in Autism" Program by Partnering with THE SUCCESS BOX (