Schedules are important for everyone. As an adult, our schedules keep us functioning and productive. The regularity of a schedule helps with adapting and learning new skills, as well. Schedules are even more important to children. While developing, daily routines allow for children to learn about themselves and the world around them. Essentially, routine helps them to navigate life and expectations.
Typical routines (general and specific) that children should get used to everyday include:
- Morning routine (brushing teeth, getting dressed, eating breakfast, etc.)
- Getting dressed
- Brushing teeth
- Bathing routine
- Bedtime routine (bathing, brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, bedtime story, etc.)
These are just a couple of examples of routines that provide multiple learning opportunities to help a child become aware of the world around them. Schedules like these provide support for the child, however children with Autism Spectrum Disorder may not understand schedules and the way they work without extra help and support. That is where a visual schedule can be a tremendous service to your child.
The advantages to using a visual schedule with individuals with ASD include (Mesibov et al., 2005):
- Utilizing the individual’s visual strengths and providing a receptive communication system to increase understanding
- Helping the individual to learn new skills and broaden their interests
- Providing tools that allow the individual to use skills in a variety of settings
- Increasing the individual’s flexibility
- Helping the individual to remain calm and reducing inappropriate behaviors
- Helping the individual to develop greater independence and resulting in higher self-esteem