PURPOSE: Visual supports are widely used and generally regarded as an effective resource for intervention with individuals who function on the autism spectrum. More cross-contextual research into their efficacy is required. METHOD AND OUTCOMES: In this article, we selectively review the research literature around visual supports based on an original conceptual model that highlights their contribution in the interpersonal social and communicative milieu of classrooms, homes and other daily living contexts. Attention is drawn to a range of practical and research issues and challenges in the use of visual supports as well as evidence of their effectiveness in enhancing participation, learning and social membership in this population. CONCLUSIONS: Areas for further research relating to the introduction and use of visual supports with the autism spectrum disorder population are identified.