How to Help Non Speaking Autistic Children with Visual Schedules
In the past, I’ve talked about the importance of having routines for autistic children. The predictability and structure is beneficial to them and it may help with their existing anxiety issues. It can also help with the transition back to school or between the school year and extended school year.
But how do you go about setting up a daily routine? And how do you do this for a non-speaking autistic child?
While I would love to tell you that it’s simple, sometimes it’s not. You can try printable visual schedules created from my free printables for autistic children or you can try an app. You can use something like PECS to start with or you can create your own using your own pictures. You can also ask your support team for their advice.
I am more than happy to share a few tips with you on why visual schedules are important for non-speaking autistic children. I’m not a professional, of course, merely trying to help.
To get started with visual schedules, download the Autism Family Life Toolkit for Parents of Autistic Children
How to Use Visual Schedules to Support Non Speaking Children with Autism
Sweet B has always benefited from having a visual schedule at home and at school. Whether it was to help her get used to the classroom routine in preschool or to establish a bedtime routine at home; the visual schedule has helped.
With her being on the non-speaking side, a visual schedule has also helped her to participate in the communication process. As she’s gotten older, her ability to use PECS in the classroom and at home have improved. She’s also gotten better at understanding her schedule.
At home, for example, we have a set morning routine but we don’t use a visual schedule anymore. That’s because this part of her routine no longer requires the visual assistance.
We do, however, still use visual schedules and charts for bedtime, after school, and bathroom.
When she first made the transition into the early childhood programs, having a visual schedule helped her tremendously. She knew what was expected of her and at what time of day.
This type of structure helped her and as she got older, she was able to use her schedules less. It still helped her anticipate things and she still does use a modified visual schedule at school.
In fact, every classroom at her school uses a visual schedule- whether the children are non-verbal or verbal. This ties back into the routines helping autistic children thing.
You can also utilize something like daily printable schedule cards.
The Daily Benefits of Visual Schedules for Non Speaking Autism
But just why are visual schedules so important for daily life?
- It eases anxiety
- It helps with structure
- It makes life more predictable
And, honestly? You are providing a nonverbal child with a form of communication. If they know what their routine and schedule are supposed to be like, they can participate in the process. They now have the means with which to choose between activities and to show the activities that they prefer.
Of course, you cannot predict or plan for everything. But, you can at least help your non verbal autistic child with some structure and routine with visual schedules.