Whether we realise it or not, most of us use visual schedules of some sort, every day of our lives!
Calendars, planners, ‘to do’ lists and checklists are all forms of visual schedules – visuals that help make our lives easier and help make us more efficient in what we do.
So how do we make a visual schedule that supports a person in following a list of things to do, how to be more independent, and how to feel more comfortable about what is going on in their day?
Below is an outline of how to make a schedule board that uses pictures or words to support a person in all of these things. You might like to modify yours a little, but hopefully the directions below will give you a starting point from which to work.
- Find a piece of heavy duty card or laminate some thick paper and cut into a long thin strip – this will be your schedule base. (Thin flexible plastic chopping boards can also be useful if you want something that is more sturdy.)
- You will need some sort of pocket to attach at the bottom of your schedule base – an envelope is a quick and simple solution to this, or you can create a pocket with left over cardboard or laminated paper. * This pocket will hold the cards that are finished with as the person works through their schedule later on.
- Make a list of tasks or steps in an activity that the person will be working through. For example, you could have the steps involved in getting dressed in the morning, or the steps involved in completely a craft project.
- If you are using pictures with your schedule, find pictures that can represent each of the steps in the activity or task. For example, for the steps involved in getting dressed, you would have pictures of each item of clothing that needs to be put on. * Please note, pictures should always be accompanied by words beneath them to support the development of literacy skills.
- If you are using words only on your schedule, write or print the words involved in each step of the task in a size that is easy to see and read.
- It is helpful to laminate the pictures and words for longevity, but they can be used without being laminated if needed.
- Attach your words / pictures to the schedule board base, running downwards, in the order in which the task/s will be completed. They can be attached using Velcro or blutak adhesive – Velcro is generally more durable but it is up to your personal choice. * To save your own frustration, just remember to always match the hard Velcro to the schedule board and the soft Velcro to the backs of the words / pictures.
- Attach a timer to the top of your schedule for extra ‘user-friendliness’ – a timer helps to keep tasks on track and is great for setting limits to things that may be attractive to spend a long time on when other things need to be done 😉
- Your schedule is ready to go! Make sure you spend plenty of time introducing the person to their schedule and showing how it works – as each task is complete (moving from the top of the board down), the task card is removed from the base and placed in the pocket. The next picture down becomes what is to be done next.
We’d love to hear how you use schedules for both yourself and the people you support!
Written by Elissa Plumridge