Visual schedules for autistic kids

Visual schedules for autistic kids

When you start researching autism early intervention, autism help, autism advice or even autism therapy you will often read about “visual schedules for autistic kids”.

Some have described a visual schedule as being: “a systematic technique that enhances learning and communication for individuals on the autism spectrum”.  Others will say that a visual activity schedule is a group of photographs, pictures or drawing that provide information about a sequence of activities or events.

Either way: “visual schedules for autistic kids” work!  They are a great tool and can easily be made at home.  Visual schedules can also be used for a wide variety of purposes which include communication enhancement and the introduction to AAC.

Autism specialists such as those at Amazing K tend to use BoardMaker as a preferred software package to make a variety of autism classroom visuals and communication boards, but honestly, we have seen success in a variety of different type of schedules.  You can use photos that you take with your own camera or phone.  You can also use stock images that you buy off the internet.  If you are very artistic then you can also draw images for your schedule.  The idea is however always to keep the images consistent.

Uses for a visual schedule for autistic kids:

Children with autism often struggle with the concept of “what comes next” or what should I do next?  They also struggle with transitioning between activities and often become emotionally distressed when they must stop and activity to start something new.

Visual schedules are great when helping a child overcome these challenges, but they are also great for a variety of other reasons.  Let’s have a look at some of the benefits the implementation of a visual schedule in the home or classroom would have for the child:

  1. It can assist with comprehension – meaning that it is providing another channel of learning.
  2. A good schedule helps reduce adult prompts and increases the child’s independence.
  3. Schedules meet the individual needs of each child because they are completely customized.
  4. A visual schedule can be used to build routines and structure into a child’s days.
  5. It can provide organization, structure, and predictability to the child’s day.
  6. Literacy and language development can be supported with the implementation of a visual schedule.
  7. A visual schedule is a great way to help enforce verbal instruction during activities.
  8. Visual schedules are a great tool for teaching time concepts.
  9. Sequencing of activities when getting dressed, brushing teeth, using the toilet, bathing, washing hands etc. can also be taught by use of a visual schedule
  10. When the child gets a bit older a schedule can be used to help teach responsibility (like feeding pets, washing dishes, or stacking a dishwasher)
  11. Transitioning benefits can be gained because your child will know what happens next.
  12. Reduced anxiety levels because the child knows what happens next and what is expected of them. Less stress and meltdowns mean loads more opportunity to learn and grow.


One of the greatest benefits is that a visual schedule can be used across different environments.  You can easily create schedules for home use, outdoor activities, school, extracurricular activities and so much more.  A good visual system is easy for everyone in your child’s life to understand.

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Ilse Kilian-Ross

Ilse Kilian-Ross is the owner of Amazing K, a registered ECD and Partial Care Facility in Johannesburg. Amazing K is a private adhd school, autism school and therapy centre for children from age 2 - 6 years where learners receive the best of both the schooling and therapy world. The autism school offers Individualized Education Programs, Speech- and Augmentive Alternative Communication (AAC) therapy as well as a full and adapted Academic Curriculum.