What are visual schedules?
Visual schedules use a series of pictures to communicate a series of activities or the steps of a specific activity. They are often used to help children understand and manage the daily events in their lives. They can be created using pictures, photographs, or written words, depending upon the ability of the child.
Who uses visual schedules?
Visual schedules can be used with any child; however those children who are visual learners will benefit most from it. Visual schedules are used frequently with children who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Why should I use visual schedules with my child?
There are many benefits to using visual schedules including:
- Allowing child to see what is coming next in the routine
- Decreasing challenging behaviours
- Making transitions smoother
- Promoting independence
- Increasing receptive and expressive communication
- Is a great reminder of verbal directions given
How to make visual schedules:
- glue stick
- Bristol board
- pictures (can be created with a camera or on a computer depending on the level of the child)
- Pen/marker to label the picture (if not creating them on the computer),
- laminating paper (mactac)
- Gather materials listed above.
- Choose pictures for the schedule you wish to create. Create them using a computer or real life objects (depending on the stage your child is at).
- Cut pictures and pieces of Bristol board the same size
- Glue the pictures on Bristol board squares or simply laminate for durability.
- Velcro pieces of Velcro on the back of every picture. Be sure to use the same type of Velcro on all your pictures so the opposite type of Velcro will be on your board. If you are creating a permanent schedule then simply glue the pictures on the Bristol board strip that is created in the next step.
- Create a strip to hold the schedule. Cut out Bristol board long enough to hold all the pictures for the block of time you are creating a schedule. For example, you may be creating a schedule for an entire day or just for one routine, such as brushing your teeth.
- You may create a pocket at the bottom/end that represents “all done” for removable pictures.
- Velcro the pictures to the schedule in the order they will occur.
How to use visual schedules
Teach your child how to use the schedule by explaining and modeling how to use the pictures. As you move through the schedule you can remove the picture from the schedule, and place it in the pocket with the words “all done” on it. Keep the schedule located in a convenient place at the child’s eye level, to promote consistent use. Use the schedule as part of your daily routine.
When you first start to use the visual schedule, an adult will need to go through the schedule daily with the child. Once the child becomes comfortable with the routine they can go through the schedule on their own.
Create your own visual schedule and watch your child’s independence, self -esteem and communication blossom!
Gwen is a Communicative Disorders Assistant with more than 17 years of experience working with a diverse client base. Her experiences have provided her with the wonderful opportunity to be associated with adults suffering from brain injuries, those that have experienced a stroke, children with articulation and language difficulties and children who have a limited word repertoire.