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Visual Schedule Tip Sheet

Many children with ASD are visual learners. This means they understand and remember information better when the see and hear it rather than just hearing it.

Visual Schedules

  • What is a visual schedule: A visual schedule shows what activity is currently happening and what activity will happen next. A schedule might show two events or it might show several. It is based on what the child can understand.
  • Why do visual schedules help: Visual schedules provide information that does not “go away” like words do. This allows the child a longer time to process and understand the information. Visual schedules highlight the important information and provide predictability and structure.
  • Where do I start: You need to teach the child to use the visual schedule starting with two symbols and showing the child that the symbol is related to the activity. Gradually increase the number of symbols. Once the child knows how the use the visual schedule, they may be able to use it independently without adult help.
  • Where should I keep it: Post the visual schedule in an area where all the children can see it and many children in the class will use it. The child with ASD may need to have the schedule brought to them or have a smaller version to keep with them.

Tips for Using a Visual Schedule

  • Visual schedules use a symbol to represent an event. The following symbols are listed in order from easiest (most concrete) to most difficult (most abstract).
    • Real objects
    • Miniature objects
    • Colour photographs
    • Black and white photographs
    • Colour picture drawings
    • Black and white drawings
    • Written words
  • Start with the most abstract symbol the child can understand (each child will be different). Once the child understands the schedule pair that symbol with the next, more difficult symbol and fade the easier symbol. Continue this as long as the child can understand the schedule.
  • Make the symbols on the visual symbol movable. This allows the child to remove the symbol when the activity is completed. It also allows the adult to show the child when a change in schedule has occurred by changing the symbols.

Geneva Centre for Autism
112 Merton Street, Toronto, Ontario, M4S 2Z8
Tel: (416) 322-7877 – Toll Free: 1-866-Geneva-9 – Fax: (416) 322-5894

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