Schedules are similar to the to-do list which we have for us to follow the task for a day or a week. We write in our diary or nowadays we use mobile apps to remember the tasks.
Similarly we can also use the Schedules to our kids to make their world more predictable. But in a little different way.
Since my son understands pictures easily, I used pictures for communication. Not only for communication, for his understanding too. If my son is anxious or in the mood to throw tantrum, his listening and understanding level goes down. During these time my verbal communication does not help him to understand the situation.
Most of the time my son's tantrum is due to anxiety and also because of his inability to communicate. Anxiety may be because of unawareness of “What will come next” . Inability to communicate may be because of the inadequate vocabulary, socialising skills, being unable to express his likes/dislikes or sensory overload etc.
Picture/ visual schedule helps to reduce my son's Anxiety and also increases his understanding.
When I started to use the pictures, I didn't use it in the form of schedule. I just used a picture whenever we initiate an action. For example, Bathroom picture before taking bath, Brush picture before Brushing and park picture before we goto park.
Once he started to understand the purpose of the picture and also learnt to communicate with pictures, I introduced him the Pictures in the schedule form.
When I started to use picture/visual schedule, I was very confused whether to use a real picture, photos, icon or cartoon, only words. My worry was about the generalisation. Finally I decided to use the Photographs along with Words. For example, photograph of a park along with the word “PARK” written below the picture.
When I studied a day of my son, I got some routine and necessary tasks that he needs to understand and do by himself. For example, brushing, going to toilet, bathing, Breakfast, lunch, dinner, school time, Activity time at home, Bed time. So I used these tasks in the schedule to make him to understand the schedule.
Another confusion was as to what tasks to put in the Schedule. Because the schedule has to start right from the morning routine and go on till his Bedtime.
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When I started to use schedule, I used something similar to the Fig(1) but with lots of photographs. Since I added words with the photographs, my son learnt the words along with the pictures. Now I removed the photographs and use only words for most of the tasks.
Let me explain, how I prepare and use the schedule.
How I prepare the schedule :
- Laminate a A4 size paper. Cut it into three equal strips. Attach the strips one below the another with transparent cellotape(so you get a lengthy strip to put the schedule)
- Put velcro on the strip with equal spacing
- Prepare a document of pictures for tasks(I Use Open Office-Draw for this which is much easier for this purpose than Microsoft Word)
- Cut down the pictures into individual pictures like Bath time, Dinner as shown in the Fig(1).
- Put Velcro on both sides of the individual pictures
- Stick the individual pictures on the strip according to the need
How I use the schedule :
- First I show the picture in the schedule and explain him what we are going to do
- Do the task
- Once the task got over, I help my son to flip the finished task picture as shown in the Fig(2)
The yellow pouch on the side of the schedule has additional task picture which are meant to be used whenever need arises.
First – Then Chart :
I use First – Then Chart as a alternate option to the picture Schedule. If my son is unable to pay attention and if he is throwing tantrums or in a meltdown mood then ,“First – Then chart” is my first choice.
First – Then chart shows only two actions like shown in the Fig(3).
Some time I use the same in the study time also like Fig (4).
Once my son started understanding the schedule well, I started to use schedule in the form as shown in the Fig(5). This is quick and saves time in preparing time consuming printed schedules.
Schedule helps the child to understand the day's routinue and task better and keeps them less anxious.