A visual schedule is a representation of
scheduled tasks or activities in the order in which they’ll occur using
symbols, objects, pictures, and/or words.
Visual schedules need to be created fully based
the person’s unique skills and needs.
1. Decide on a format together
Select symbols that will make sense to the
individual (something they experience and will recognize) and decide if you’re
setting up a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule for them to utilize.
2. Less is more
In the beginning, don’t overwhelm the person
with a full schedule, creating a symbol for every aspect of their day. Start
with less and allow them to get used to using it before increasing the number
of symbols used.
3. Consider their transitions, preferences, and moments that happen often
When choosing the first few symbols to start
with, think about the person’s biggest transitions throughout their day
(example: leaving the house to go to their day program). Also, consider their
favorite parts of their days and routines that occur most often (example: meal
time). The more they interact with the schedule, the faster they’ll understand
its purpose and function.
Real pictures (instead of cartoons) may be easier for the person to
If they’re uncomfortable interacting with the schedule, model how to use
Using it consistently is key!
The Special Populations Unit is hosting a
webinar all about visual schedules during the month of July. Keep an eye out
for this training!