5 Tips for Effective Visual Scheduling for Individuals with AutismApril 2010
- Phrase schedules loosely
Presenting schedules with less rigid definitions will help individuals with autism learn to be less rigid with the schedule. Try things like "Today we'll probably..." or "This afternoon we may..." Use this more loosely phrased language verbally, and in print and/or symbols on the schedule.
- Make a conscious decision to cover and/or remove symbols
Covering a symbol represents a less permanent removal of a schedule item versus actually removing (item from the schedule. (Most likely your "removable" schedule items will be adhered with Velcro.) Hide a symbol when you want the individual to focus on something else. Remove a symbol when that schedule item is over or is no longer going to happen.
- Introduce the concept of time span schedules
Often when we use time in schedules, we build in very little buffer. If an event doesn't begin when the clock on the schedule suggests, the individual with autism may have a difficult time. Using time span schedules links schedules to the time, but also builds in some buffer - for the normal events of life that may present some delays to our schedules.
- Don't stop being visual
Remember to continue to represent your schedule visually - even if things change. Let's say an event is not going to happen as planned. Verbally describe this change to the student but also be sure the visual schedule reflects the change. This may mean removing a schedule item and replacing it with an alternative.
- Color code to add meaning
Implement creative, and more importantly - meaningful, use of color coding on schedules and/or calendars. Want to signify that Saturday and Sunday are "Stay at home days"? Color code the border of those buttons the same color as a student's house. Does a student have speech therapy every Thursday? Color code those buttons with the color of the SLPs hair, for example!
This is a fantastic video presentation about visual scheduling for autism. Anyone can watch it. I’ve printed out the powerpoint slides that go along with it as they are very informative too but the video is much more detailed. It’s about an hour long but you can stop and start it any time.