Hi, I’m Sam, and I’m a Registered Behavior Technician at Achieve Beyond. Today, we’re going to talk about using a visual schedule in the community.
What is a Visual Schedule?
Visual schedules are helpful tools for our children and even ourselves. Have you ever used a grocery list or a to-do list? If so, you have used a visual schedule. Whether you use one for your child’s bedtime routine or have one in your bathroom for hand washing, following a visual schedule helps transitions go more smoothly and helps keep your child on task.
While many visual schedules are used in home or at school, you can also create and use a visual schedule while out in the community or while out running errands.
Benefits of a Visual Schedule
Having this visual schedule helps your child prepare for what is coming next, so they know what to expect while out of the house. Sometimes new, unfamiliar, or infrequently traveled places can be uncomfortable for a child. Creating a visual schedule may help them cope with any potential changes in environment or routine.
How to Create a Visual Schedule
For example, using a visual schedule to describe a trip to the grocery store. You could add pictures and texts that describe the task for the day. So for example, first grocery store, then we go to target, then we’re going to go and eat lunch. After, we’ll have a haircut. And finally, we will go home.
So with the visual schedule, your child could have the wipe off board or the paper, and they could check off everything that they complete. So after they go to the grocery store, they could give it a check, they could cross it out, or they could erase it. Add specific stores or places if you can, so your child knows exactly what to expect. These schedules can be as detailed as you want.
If your child knows the steps in paying for groceries, pay at the register may suffice. However, if your child is being taught how to independently pay for their groceries and cannot yet do it on their own, listing the specific steps to do so would be beneficial. Visual schedules can be used for all levels and ages. Create one that fits the needs for your child.
Other Helpful Methods
Another helpful strategy to help make transitioning go more smoothly is using first-then language. This not only helps prepare your child for what’s happening next, but it also helps them to understand and follow two-step or multi-step instructions. So first, we’ll wash our hands, and then it’ll be time to eat dinner. The first-then strategy can be used as just a way of rephrasing verbal instructions or can be used as a visual. Writing down or using pictures to describe the order of activities can be helpful for your child in understanding what is expected of them. It can also help them better prepare for an approaching transition.