Visual schedules can be a great help in helping your child with establishing routines.
Consider the age of your child to establish a good visual schedule. For children under the age of 6, using pictures with words is important. Many parents use a whiteboard or a large piece of paper to write the schedule for the week.
You can structure it by day or by week. If your child needs guidance in the morning to get ready for school, a schedule might look like this:
7:00 am - Wake up
7:15 am - Brush teeth
7:25 am - Get dressed
7:35 am - Eat breakfast
7:50 am - Drive to school or school bus
When you provide a visual schedule for your child, you need to be as specific as possible. If there are changes to the routine that are coming up, talk to them about these changes so that they have time to prepare and adjust. You may have to do this more than once.
Often, we fail to prepare our children for events or social situations that they have never experienced before. Preparing a child to attend a friend’s birthday party can be very different than preparing them to go to a restaurant or to church. If you incorporate pictures when you talk to your child about this new experience, they may have a better chance of comprehending what the situation will be like.
Think of all the things that your child enjoys that they might be able to do at the party or at the restaurant. Make sure that you also talk to your child about the things that might happen, that they might not like or enjoy as well. Letting them know how long they are going to be there is also important, as many children do not have a clear understanding of time.
If you are naturally organized and predictable, creating a visual schedule may not be difficult for you. But when you need organization and structure in your own life, it may be a bit more daunting.
You might want to take small steps towards setting up routines if you want to be successful.
Talk to other parents of children with disabilities and share ideas on how to structure activities to make your family’s life a little easier.
The Adaptive Equipment section of this site has lots of information on both low- and high-tech ideas.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.