I’ve said it before and honestly, I think it’s worth repeating: we could all do with a little bit of routine and structure.
Autistic children thrive with routines and predictability.
As a parent of a non-verbal autistic child, I have learned this first hand. Sometimes the hard way. But it became more of a matter of altering the environment to better work for my daughter.
Whether it’s at home or school, my autistic child benefits from visual schedules. And what better way than to use free printables for autistic children to set those schedules up.
3 Meaningful Ways Autistic Children Benefit from Visual Schedules
It may seem like common sense. At least for me. I’ve come to know that my daughter is more of a visually oriented person. Part of that has to do with her being non-verbal and using sign language or PECS to communicate her wants and needs.
But, what has worked at school in terms of using a visual schedule with PECS, has not always worked at home.
Some suggestions to work around this is to create your own using digital pictures that you print out of familiar items. You can also mix and match from my own free printables for autistic children. Start with the daily routine as your base and then add in others as needed. I have also created a personal schedule printable pack at a modest price.
But how, exactly, do visual schedules benefit autistic children?
- They provide a visual base for a routine and structure. You can show them when something is going to happen rather than just telling them when something is going to happen.
- Visual schedules help take some of the surprise out of the day by implementing predictability. Of course, while you cannot control everything, a visual schedule can be of great help if your daily routines don’t vary too much from day to day.
- Visual schedules can help increase independence by giving the autistic child control. By having a representation of what’s going to happen and when; they might be able to perform activities more independently over time.
Research suggests that autistic individuals in particular may be more responsive to learning when something is presented in a step-by-step visual way.
Who else can benefit from visual schedules?
Well, honestly, it all depends on a few things.
For children, from toddlers to teens, visual schedules are incredibly effective. We may not even realize that we’re using them in some cases.
How we use visual schedules in our every day life:
Visual schedules have been incredibly beneficial for my nonverbal autistic daughter. They have provided structure, routine, and predictability. Three things that help her avoid meltdowns.
We implement and utilize visual schedules for almost everything when it comes to filling the importance of routine for autism.
If it can be created into a visual schedule, then chances are that we’ve done it. From a morning routine to a bedtime routine, to a school day routine, to a mealtime routine; visual schedules have played an important part in our lives.
How to use a visual schedule to establish a daily routine:
When you combine several visual schedules together you can help your autistic child manage different parts of their day. This may seem a bit excessive (to you) at first. But for your child? You are providing them with the gift of predictability.
Imagine: knowing what was going to happen and when it was going to happen.
Imagine: not having to second guess your schedule or order of events.
Those are just two of the things that you are giving to your autistic child when you implement visual schedules.
I know that having a schedule greatly helps me with daily life, so I cannot begin to imagine how much it must benefit my autistic daughter.
To get started with visual schedules, download the Autism Family Life Toolkit for Parents of Autistic Children