A lot of our kiddos are very routine regimented and have an internal clock that lets them know when therapy starts and also when it is time to leave. We are often amazed that they are able to do this, especially when there is not a clock in sight. But when the routine is suddenly changed, they immediately go into fright-fight mode, along with a tantrum, which requires time to calm down. This is a big deal, especially because not knowing what could happen next is stressful and the unknown can cause anxiety. To ease the frustration, we implement picture schedules so that our kiddos can anticipate what is going to happen next and with who, so that they can be prepared.
Children who have difficulty with transitioning between activities usually have difficulty ending a preferred activity. So, we like to implement the use of timers that give a visual of when the activity will end and an auditory response to alert them that the activity is over.
We also enjoy using picture schedule to learn how to complete a task. You can make your picture schedule changeable by using velcro on the back of the pictures, so that you can arrange their day to accommodate events that may occur just for one day, such as doctor’s appointments, birthday parties, play dates, etc. Another great use for picture schedules are when children have difficulty following the steps to complete a task. Sometimes understanding verbal and written instructions can be tricky, but for children that rely on visuals, using a picture schedule can work for remembering the steps to brush their teeth, make a sandwich, and even how to complete their chores.
If you are considering using a picture schedule, put it somewhere that is accessible to your child. Make a copy to keep in the car or in their backpack, so that they can reference back to it if any confusion occurs.