Topics in ABA: Visual Schedules

Friday February 8, 2019 at 10:47 AM


What are Visual Schedules?

It’s not uncommon for children on the autism spectrum to show a preference for regular, consistent routines. A common concern that we hear from parents is that their child has a difficult time dealing with unexpected transitions, new activities, or changes to their daily schedule. In this post, we wanted to share a simple strategy that could be helpful for parents in these circumstances and that can be relatively easy to do at home.

A visual schedule is a tool that we often use in therapy, in special education classrooms, or in a variety of situations where a child can benefit from visual supports. The purpose of such a schedule is to provide a visual display of some sequence of events. Through the use of pictures, it can help a child better understand the sequence and know what to expect at each stage. A visual schedule might outline the main elements of an entire day’s routine or just the steps in an individual activity. The schedule can even be as simple as a “first/then” format with only two pictures, which can serve as a helpful reminder that a reward or fun activity that will follow a lesson, chore, or some other task.

Resources for Parents

For a parent looking to use a visual schedule with their child, they can be put together at home fairly easily with simple materials. A quick search on Google or Pinterest will yield a wide variety of examples as well. We’ve included a few links below to resources that offer more information about visual schedules or provide examples and templates:

Visual Supports Toolkit
ABA Resources
Visual Schedules
Teachers’ Aids: Visual Schedules

If your child is receiving ABA therapy, you can also consult with your child’s BCBA about what type of schedule might work best, along with many other strategies that could help your child navigate unexpected changes more smoothly. Be sure to also follow our blog for more tips and information on a variety of autism-related topics!

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