Tuesday, April 28, 2020

A Visual Schedule to Help with Challenging Morning Routines

Dealing with problem behaviors in the home setting can be challenging, especially with children who have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. For these children, maintaining focus in order to complete morning tasks independently can be quite difficult, especially when everyone else in the family is rushing around getting ready for the day. 

This is a situation when a visual schedule can be helpful. A visual schedule is an ordered sequence of images that shows a person the steps to follow to complete a task or set of tasks. According to research, using visual schedules with children who have a diagnosis of autism can be very effective and make routines and transitions go more smoothly.
- Write out the morning routine on a piece of construction paper. (See the example above.)
- Laminate the construction paper
- Locate various images to represent each task and print them out.
- Cut out the shape of a small star for each task.
- Laminate all of the images and stars.
- Attach the Velcro pieces to the appropriate spots on the visual schedule, images, & stars.

If your child needs prompts to know which task to complete first, second, etc., hand him the image that represents the first task. The child should take the image to the Visual Schedule and attach it to the right of the appropriate task on the schedule, and then he should complete the task. Provide assistance as needed at first, then gradually reduce the amount of assistance that you provide. Once he completes the task, he should place a star next to the task in the “Done” or “Complete” column. Have him continue the same process for all of the morning tasks on the schedule. Be sure to praise him when all the stars have been placed, and he has completed the routine successfully.
Hopefully, the use of the visual schedule will help your child be calmer and more organized during challenging activities and routines each day!

This project was completed by a Master of Occupational Therapy student at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center and posted with permission.