Autistic children thrive on routine and structure. As your child begins to recognize structure in his or her life, this may be the time to make a visual schedule to help your child recognize when certain events are happening in his or her day. A visual schedule works better than a written schedule for obvious reasons as your child may not be able to read and thus may not get the benefit of the visual cue.
To make such a visual schedule, you can use a white board on which you put the hours of the day and a space at the top for the day of the week. Purchase strips of Velcro that have a sticky back and place a small square of Velcro in each time slot. Using thick card, draw the different aspects of your day in visual form. For example, you can draw pictures of food for the times of the day that you eat. You can also draw a picture of a bed for the times your child sleeps.
Each day, pin up the pictorial representation of your day and put the day of the week at the top. When your child wakes up, bring him or her to the board and talk about when different things will happen. When it comes time for the various events in the day, have the child tear off the pictorial representation and talk about what it is you’re going to be doing. Put the pictorial representation in a nearby box for the next day. This technique will help your child appreciate structure in his or her day. It leaves no question as to what will happen and it involves, in a way, the completion of tasks—something autistic children like to do.
By using Velcro squares, you can alter the schedule every day for things like shopping and doctor’s visits. Each day can look the way it’s supposed to on the board and will give the autistic child a lesser degree of confusion about the things that he or she will be doing that day.