Visual Schedules and Autism: How to Support Your Child Throughout the Day

We all need reminders at times of what we need to do.  This may come in the form of checklists, to-do lists, calendar appointments, etc.  Children with autism are no different in this regard and tend to thrive on structure and routine.  Visual representations of steps that need to be completed for a particular routine or an entire to-do list, can be highly effective in establishing that structure and ensuring that the day goes more smoothly. If you are thinking about creating or utilizing visual aids and visual schedules for your child, here are some tips to get started:

1. Think about what your child needs help with.

Is it the overall morning routine? Maybe remembering the steps of getting dressed? Knowing what types of clothing are appropriate for that day? Completing all steps of hand washing? Independently packing a bag for school?

2. Meet your child where he or she is.

If your child has never used a visual aids or a visual schedule before, then creating a long, detailed schedule for the day may be too much.  Most children need to be taught how to use a schedule, and simply having visuals present may not be enough.

3. How will you use it?

These visuals can be used as visual reminders or as step by step guides for your child.  For instance, if my child were fairly proficient with a bathroom routine, but sometimes forgot certain steps, I may have the visual representations of those steps on the wall as reminders.  However, if my child were just learning the steps of the morning routine, I may teach her how to use the visual schedule in such a way that walks her through each step.

4. Visual Aids come in a variety of forms. They can be used as:

  • To-Do Lists
  • Schedule for the Day
  • Visual reminders

If you would like to implement a visual schedule or routine for your child, but don’t know where to start, download our Visual Aids Starter Kit below.  There are a variety of visuals included in this kit that can be used to create a day’s overall schedule or to break down specific activities in a day.  This kit includes visual icons from a variety of categories, several backgrounds to suit your child’s needs, and detailed instructions about how to create and teach your child to use them.

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