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Visual Schedules
Schedules | Simple Week | Bedtime | Dressing | Personal Morning | Complicated Week | Themed 1 | Themed 2 | Themed 3
Themed 4 | Colourful | Siblings

Time to talk schedules.   Schedules add structure to periods of time, allowing you to see where you are in relation to the rest of the time period.   They also allow you to mentally 'zoom out' from the moment and see the whole (central coherence).   They can help you plan and prepare for the next stage, and see the 'route' through the time period to the place that you are 'safe' (usually home) or find motivational (TV or computer?).

I use the term 'time period' because you can schedule anything.   School schedules usually cover the day, but you can do parts of the day (car > shop > car > home) or tasks such as getting dressed or using the toilet (executive functioning).

Going through your day as an autistic child with LD or perfoming a complex task such as going to the toilet could be thought of as like a neuro-typical person building a piece of flat pack furniture from Ikea, a really complex one you’ve never done before.   Imagine doing that every day?   Have a think about what you go through when performing a task like this.   You've got a visual schedule to help you, it's called the instructions.

  • The job requires concentration.
  • You stick to the instructions (even us men), consulting them often.
  • You recheck previous steps to makes sure you’re on the right one and haven’t forgotten anything, especially before moving on or after a disruption.
  • You look at step numbers to see where you are in relation to the end of the task.
  • You get annoyed if interrupted, the more interruptions the more annoyed you get!
  • You get cranky if you can’t get it right, or angry if there are bits missing!
  • You become worried if the actual item is different from the instructions, or parts look different, or instructions cover several slightly different models, possibly then becoming concerned you won’t be able to finish and then cross with Ikea!
  • Would you be proud when you’ve successfully finished?   Would you want people to acknowledge your hard work. Tired? Need a rest?

I know its not always possible to structure a day at home as you can a day at school, family life just isn't like that.   However if you think it would help your child, its worth having a go.   After all, if they had a physical disability, if they were a wheelchair user, you'd make necessary adaptions to your house and family life, so why not make some to support your child's autism, meet it part way.

Sometimes you need more than one schedule.   You may have one that represents your child's day or week, and then separate smaller ones for specific tasks, such as getting dressed or using the loo.

You can add a little flexibility into the daily routine by having symbols that attach to the schedule with velcro, or express permanence by printing things on the schedule.   A combination of these often works.

We use schedules for events we're not familiar with - itineraries on tour holidays, band line-up at music festivals, programmes at conferences or theatre events and fetes to name but a few!

Clicking on the text links above will show you some examples of schedules, starting from very plain and simple and getting increasingly complicated and decorated.   Some are in flash format and will not show on iPads and iPhones.