Visual Schedules

Posted by Katie Justice on 8/21/2020 7:00:00 AM

If you’re anything like me, it has been quite an adjustment getting back into the swing of things after having such a long time away from routines and structure of normal everyday life.  I didn’t realize how adjusted I had become to the different pace of life.  Though it feels good to be back to “normal” (the new normal), I had to retrain myself on organizing my day to be the most productive I could be.  One of the key components, for me, was to set my daily schedule so I could relieve some stress by setting goals for what I wanted to accomplish and have some predictability of what my day was going to look like.  Just as scheduling out our days is key, it is incredibly important for our students as well.  Transitioning from a more unstructured environment back to the school setting can prove to be difficult for some of our learners.  Visual schedules are helpful in assisting students in understanding the expectations for the day, giving them a clear picture of how the day will be structured, and can also help assist with students who have difficulties with transitions.  There are a number of different types of visual schedules depending on the student’s level of support needed.  Here are some examples below.

Simple Check Box Schedule

Above is a simple check-box schedule which gives a clear sequence of the day and also allows the student to mark off completed activities.

Visual Schedule

Above in an example of a visual schedule in which you can change the pictures as needed.  This is a very important aspect of a schedule as it allows students to be reliant on the consistency of the schedule being correct, even though the schedule might change day to day. As we know, different, unplanned activities might arise, and this allows the teacher to prepare the learner for the change in schedule and to practice knowing what is coming, even if it is different from the typical plan.

Adjustable Schedule

This is another example of an adjustable schedule, but the student can move the item from “to do”, to “all done” for completed activities.

Transition Schedule

A transition schedule is a great visual tool for those that may struggle moving from one activity or area to another.  The student is able to check their schedule, and the picture represents WHERE the student is supposed to go to next.  There can be a number of different activities or items that they engage with at the area, but it assists the student in knowing where they are supposed to go.  The student will take the picture from their schedule and match it to the matching picture around the room/building.

First Then Schedule

A First/Then board is another visual that breaks down the schedule into simpler, smaller parts.  This can be especially beneficial for students who need access to reinforcement at a higher rate.  The student is to complete the first activity and then given access to a preferred item/activity.

Each of these schedules can be combined with a reinforcement system in order to increase the student’s independence, endurance with work/non-preferred activities, and increasing positive pro-social behaviors while in the school environment.  Visual schedules also help students learn how to organize their day and plan for changes in routines.

Katie Justice  
Katie Justice, BCBA