Many teachers of children with special needs use various visual schedule throughout the day. The visual schedule gives students a sense of what will be expected of them and that there is an clear end. Depending on the level and needs of the students, the visual schedule cards may help organize the time frame as needed.
As teachers or parents working with children with disabilities, we often assume that the child knows the daily schedule. Do they really know? Think how lost you would be if someone took away your day timer, Palm Pilot or calendar? Would you know that your dental appointment is exactly 6 months after your last appointment without that friendly reminder from your dentist office?
Humans are visual creatures and children with disabilities often rely primarily on visual cues to gather information. Linda Hodgen (1995), states that: A major function of communication is to give information. In the typical school or home environment:
a majority of the information is given verbally
it is frequently assumed that the student already knows or remembers specific information the assumption that students already know results in information not being given at all.
There are many good reasons for using visual schedules with children who have disabilities. A visual schedule:
provides structure and predictability (which can be VERY effective in decreasing undesirable behaviors, especially with children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder).
makes abstract time concepts, such as later, next, or last, more concrete. can be used to learn new vocabulary & language concepts.
can help the child with unexpected changes in the regular schedule.
can be used as a task analysis schedule to teach new skills.
can help the child transition from one activity to the next.
can increase independence! Teaches the importance of organization.
provides a point of reference for children with a poor attention span.
helps make inclusion in the general education classroom more successful!