Steps for implementation of a visual schedule for your autistic child
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Steps for implementation of a visual schedule for your autistic child

Visual schedules can be used in a variety of different ways not just at home but when you leave to go out, when you travel or go to a restaurant.  Teaching daily routines like getting dressed or washing your hands can also be achieved with the implementation of a visual schedule.  Schedules can be incredible valuable when teaching independence and/or a new activity to a child with autism.

Here are a few tips to help you implement a visual schedule for your autistic child:

  1. Always start by identifying the skill or routine you want to target – the location where the overall schedule will be displayed is important (the bathroom, lounge, kitchen or the classroom).  The minute you know where the schedule will need to go you will be able to establish the size required.
  2. The size of the schedule will determine the overall format of the schedule.  This will make it easier to break the activity into simple steps that the user can easily understand.  If you are working on hand-washing you ideally want to put the picture or photos on the mirror or wall above the basin. 
  3. Keep the schedule simple.  Make sure the steps are clearly marked and that the overall schedule is to the point and easy to follow.
  4. Think of durability.  Laminating pictures often mean that they will last longer.  Take things like steam and water in the bathroom into consideration. 
  5. Distraction potential needs to be taken into consideration for example don’t put the lounge schedule onto or next to the television. 
  6. Give thought to what you want to help your child achieve with the implementation of a visual schedule and decide if you want to use picture, photo’s, words or a combination of formats.  We highly recommend that you keep the format throughout the class or home the same. 
  7. Plan when you are going to use the schedule and make sure you use it every day for the same purpose.  For example if you want to use in for toilet training then use it daily.  The same applies to getting dressed or making the bed.
  8. Think convenience.  It may be worth investing into a smart phone or iPad visual scheduling app that is easy to use when you leave the house or go on holiday.  We would recommend that you duplicate the schedules that you are using at home onto the smart devise to ensure continuity and convenience.
  9. Consider personalizing the schedule by using images of your child successfully completing the steps of each activity.  This will however be trial and error as some children responds better to personalized scheduled than others.

Remember that it is always recommended that you include a way for the child to indicate when they have completed steps appropriately.  The age of your child and the level of support your child requires will however determine the use of this section of the schedule.  It may be necessary for you to start off with only the steps and then work towards getting the child to indicate that they have completed a task.

Amazing K is a registered ECD and Partial Care Facility in Johannesburg. We are a private autism school and therapy centre for children from age 2 years. Our learners receive the best of both the schooling and therapy world. We offer Individualized Education Programs involved, ABA, Speech- and Augmentive Alternative Communication (AAC) therapy as well as a full and adapted Academic Curriculum. Read more about this Johannesburg Autism School here.

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