- What is the purpose of this particular visual schedule?
- How will it be used?
Visual schedule systems are an easy way to provide students with consistent cues about their daily activities. They provide a structure that allows a student to anticipate what will happen next, reduce anxiety by providing the student with a vision of his/her day and promote calmness between transitions. They are especially important for students who have a profile that includes difficulties with the understanding of oral language and directions. The consistency provided by a visual schedule is crucial in establishing an atmosphere of trust and security. Visual supports can also provide motivation to work through a less favored activity knowing a favored activity is to follow.
- Allowing students to focus
- Making abstract concepts more visually concrete
- Allowing students to express their thoughts
- Providing structure and predictability
- Reducing anxiety
- Serving as a tool to assist with transitions
- Can be used as a task analysis schedule to teach new skills
- Decide what the supports will be used for.
Example: provide the choice of a desired food or activity.
- Choose the type of supports that best meet the needs of the individual.
Example: color, size, solo or page, etc.
- Gather the necessary pictures, icons, objects, etc.
Example: picture of swing or a book, logo of McDonald's or Taco Bell, bags of chips or apple, drink choices, etc.
- Make the supports durable.
Example: laminate, attach Velcro, and make multiple copies.
- Choose where and when the support will be used.
Example: schedule on student’s desk or on the wall.
- Teach and implement the support.
- Give a standard phrase (e.g., “Check schedule”)
- Prompt the individual (from behind) to go to the schedule
- Prompt the individual to look at or point to the first activity
- Prompt the individual to go to the location of the first activity
- When the activity is over, give the standard phrase again and prompt the individual back to the schedule
Visual Supports may include:
- Written Words
- Symbols (with or without words to support the visual)
First...Then... Is another form of a visual schedule. It is a visual structure that teaches just that: First you do this (picture) then you can do this (picture of preferred activity.)For example, using the First This...Then... strategy in
visual form can provide high motivation for the student to work through one activity to get to a preferred activity. When dealing with students with behavioral difficulties, this can be a powerful strategy in maintaining appropriate classroom behavior. There are a lot of options. Schedules and calendars are the most common visual tools used to give students information. Step-by-step directions, choice boards, and classroom rules provide structure in classrooms also. They help students by creating an environment that is more predictable and understandable.
Through the consistent use of the schedule, the student can begin to pair the symbols presented with the activities that are occurring. A sure sign that this association is developing is seeing the student begin to rearrange their schedule to include all of their favorite activities. Establishing a visual schedule can also provide a structure for the student to begin to do some choice making as they are encouraged to provide some input as to the order of some of the day's events. The student may also be introduced to choosing a specific activity from a teacher-selected group of activities.
The ultimate goal for all of our students is the development of independence and the enhancement of self esteem. This can be an automatic result of allowing students to participate in the design of their day. The ability to look at a schedule, find the materials for the next activity and get started with that activity without adult support is a big step toward a student's independence. Visual supports can be a way to work toward this goal.
Below is a listing of resources for learning more about how to/why to use a schedule along with finding visual supports that you can pull from:
- The Autism Tank provides great visuals of binder visual schedules worth strolling through.
- Do2Learn has provided visuals for both the home and schools. This is a great site to share with parents. Among other great offerings they have a yearly subscription for their Make-A-Schedule program. Not cheap but for some parents this just might be what they are looking for.
- eLearning has premade visuals for various things, visual schedules being the best. Take a look.
- If you do a Google Image search, you will find many examples of designs people have used to teach First/Then.
- Indiana University has providedvisual supports for families and caregivers to use in the home environment. - See more at: http://www.iidc.indiana.edu/index.php?pageId=3613&mode=mod_resources&action=display_category&resource_cat=16&r=1359405059#sthash.YtvHUmWS.dpufa wonderful page packed full of Visual Supports to be used in the home setting.
- Kate Ahem has written a blog posting entitled, "Calendar and Advanced Visual Schedule Apps for Kids with Special Needs" worth exploring.
- Hamilton-Boone-Maddison has provided a whole page of Visual Supports in Boardmaker Templates.
- Live Speak Love has provided print outs for a variety of activities for "Making the Most of Summer Fun: Language-Based Activities for Children and Their Families"also "Summer Speech Language Activities". Worth exploring her blog for more recent goodies embedded in her site.
- Northwest Regional Education Service District has provided a great resource for detailed information on how to set up and use visual strategies with the use of visuals so that you can see examples of what they are discussing. A great site to explore.
- Practical Autism Resources has information, description and a gallery with tips worth spending some time exploring. There is a lot of very useful information and resources on this site.
- Rainbows within Reach has provided many visuals of visual supports: "Prompts, Schedules and Supports.
- Melissa Ferry shares her experiences in "5 Visual Support Tools for the Special Education Classroom".
- Victories 'n Autism provides a variety of Schedules, Behavior Charts and Task Checklists developed in Boardmaker, provided in PDF format for your instant use. These are beautifully developed by Laura Molluer, M.Ed. who is a Behavior Specialist.
- Visual Schedule Round-up by PrAACtical AAC. Check their site for many postings on Visual Schedules. Schedules, Behavior Charts & Task ChecklistsSchedules, Behavior Charts & Task Checklists
- The child uses a picture or object that indicates “check your schedule.” The child carries this cue to his schedule, and matches it to a pocket to the left of the schedule.
- Suggested check schedule cues: Poker chips, metal lids from frozen juice containers, brightly colored laminate square paper.
- A verbal cue “check your schedule” is appropriate for some children, particularly if they are using written schedules or checklists.
by Gail Van Tatehove shares 3 examples of how visual schedules can expose the person to and reinforce the use of core vocabulary.
- Count-‐Down Board
- All Done Puzzle
- My Schedule and Activity Report
Do you have students who have difficulty transitioning from one activity to another? Maybe they have a hard time transitioning from the classroom to the therapy room. This site provides 10 Tips for Transitions.
In the Home
Visual schedules are not meant for only school use! Visual schedules have many advantages both to the individual and to their families. Faherty (2000) has suggested that visual schedules may be more important to use at home than at school. This is due to the routinized nature of the school day and the fact that many children are unable to maintain the intense effort they need to function successfully at school when they return home. Time spent making visual schedules now will not only save time in the future but can increase skills and independent functioning while decreasing anxiety and difficult behaviors.Parents may want to explore this at greater length. Indiana Resource Center for Autism provides a very in depth look at visual schedules for parents to use in the home.
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