Autistic children need special attention, especially when it comes to planning out their days. If you have an autistic child, creating a schedule is important since autistic children work better with well defined schedules and tasks. Creating a visually-based picture schedule is great, since it will allow autistic children to easily read and interpret the schedule.
- Create a schedule. Start by chopping down the day or the week into various parts. For example, you will need to identify at what time the child should wake up, eat breakfast, brush his teeth, take a bath, change clothes, go to school, eat lunch, et cetera. If you have weekly appointments with a care specialist or a doctor, you should also create a weekly planner that incorporates these.
- Write down the detailed steps. Next, try to identify the detailed steps that accompany each part of the schedule. For example, if your child goes to school, you will need to identify the things that he will need to bring along, such as the school books, the pen and notepad, and the lunch box. The details should be written in a clear and simple manner so that it will be easy to comprehend for the autistic child.
- Download images. Because the schedule is picture based, the next step is to find the appropriate images. You can use clip art that is usually pre-installed in Microsoft Office. However, you can also download other images using the internet. Simply think of an image that goes best with a certain task. Make sure that the images are not too complex. Try choosing images that are as iconic as possible, or those that show a very specific action. To remind your child to go to bed, for example, simply download a picture of a bed.
- Use a word processor. Next, use a word processor to layout the actual schedule. Open the program and create a table. The table should have at least two columns. The first column will hold the picture reminders, while the next column will hold the detailed instructions for each activity. Insert the photographs into the specific boxes, and label them. Type in the detailed instructions on the other panel, and add a label on top of the schedule. If you are creating a weekly schedule, you will need to make a separate schedule for each day, although you can easily copy and paste the table and simply edit some parts to allow for changes within the week.
- Printing and laminating. Save your work and then print it onto paper. Since the schedule will be followed rigorously for a long time, you will need to protect the schedule by laminating it. Laminating is inexpensive and will keep the paper safe from wrinkles, fading, and moisture.
Post the schedule in parts of the house where your child will be able to see them. If necessary, you can also create a smaller version that the child can carry with him to school, so that he will have a guide that he can follow wherever he is.