For many children with autism, having a structured home environment helps them feel safe. Generally, any uncertainty may cause major stress for these kiddos. This usually stems from not having a full understanding of how the world works.
It’s important to have a consistent routine followed each day that is specific and your child can rely on it.
Using a visual schedule is the best way to do this.
Your visual schedule should:
- Depict the activities that will occur, and in what sequence
- Show transitions within the day (like changing activities or environments)
- Promote independence
- Can be created for the whole day, or broken up into chunks of the day (for example you could have a morning routine and an after-school routine)
How to Begin Creating A Visual Schedule
If you’ve never created a visual schedule before, it can be hard to know exactly where to start. These simple steps will help you get started:
- The best way is to begin by writing down your schedule starting with what already happens every day. (such as dinner, waking up, bath time, etc)
- Fill in the gaps by deciding on more structured activities for your child for specific times. Instead of telling them to “go play” you can add activities like – outdoor play, fine motor play (crafts, drawing, cutting, beading, etc), quiet time, etc
- Set up areas in your home where each of these activities will happen (structure the environment!) get any supplies you need (if any)
- Create the schedule – download the images from this product to get started. You can make more images by drawing them by hand or download any of my other visual packs to use.
- Decide how you will transition in between activities on the schedule – will you use a timer? A verbal cue? A sound warning? Each activity needs a clear start and finish.
- Place the visual schedule in a central location in your home, such as the fridge, or in the family room.
- Teach your child to follow the schedule. It’s not enough to make it and hang it up on your fridge – you need to actually teach your child the routine. This is the most important part. This can take time and may require a lot of prompts and reminders in the beginning. You can’t deviate from the schedule once it’s set – your visual schedule is like a contract between you and your child.
The images in this instant download are 3 in. x 3 in. To get the best use out of these, I recommend laminating them after printing. Then, cut out the images and attach velcro to the back. You can add velcro strips to a cutting board, inside a binder (where you can store all your visuals), or on a whiteboard. This is where you will attach your visuals.
For Best Quality When Printing:
This is important. The images are 3 in x 3 in. When you’re printing, ensure you adjust your printer settings to “Actual size”.
Do not use “Scale” or “Fit to Page”. This will cause the images to stretch which will cause blurring of the graphics.