Principle 3: Establish a Daily Schedule and Teach the Child How to Use It Transcript
Do you use a calendar, a Blackberry or a "to do" list? How do you keep track of family activities? How do you know where you need to be and when you need to be there? What happens when you lose your calendar? Quite frankly, losing a calendar actually results in complete paralysis for me, and I'm sure for some of you too. A daily schedule organizes the child's environment and creates predictability. Daily schedules can be created for the entire class and they can also be individualized for one student. A typical daily schedule would include broad daily activities. For instance in the school the schedule may include events such as calendar time, bathroom, math, PE, lunch, and reading; while a home schedule may include a morning routine, breakfast, or family errands.
Schedules can be just written information or you can include pictures. The format of the schedule is based upon the child's individual needs. The pictures can be hand drawn, icons, colored icons, or digital pictures. The Internet is a great resource for locating pictures; you can find just about anything you need. Schedules help the child with daily transitions, with unexpected changes and allow the child to be more independent throughout their day.
For some children, a daily schedule may need to be supported with additional information related to the activity. These additional pieces of information are known as task or mini-schedules. Task or mini-schedules are broad activities broken down further into teachable steps. For example, a bathroom mini-schedule might include steps involved in toileting or steps involved in hand washing. The number of steps included in the mini-schedule depends on the child's specific needs.
Post the schedule on the wall, place it on the child's desk, add it to the child's communication book, or place it on a key ring for easy transportation. The child should have access to a daily schedule at all times and it should be considered a lifelong support or strategy. Furthermore, if a child begins to transition well and become more independent, it does not mean the child does not need the support. All too often, people assume that the child does not need a schedule anymore because there is no behavior and they are functioning well.
As the child grows the schedule can become more sophisticated or it can begin to look more like a schedule that you and I may use. Children with ASD can be successful using a handwritten schedule in a Franklin Planner or a calendar program on the computer. Again, the support that is chosen should be individualized for the child.
Remember, visual schedules can increase independence, provide transitional support, and they are a life-long tool.