Behavioral Support - Using a schedule

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Using a schedule helps you and your child create expectations. It gives structure to your day. It also prevents problems because it lets your child know when the fun things are happening.

What you will need

  • Kitchen timer
  • Activities for your child to do
  • Reward items for your child to earn
  • Schedule items (objects, pictures, written)

What to do

  1. First, decide which type of schedule your child needs based on a short list of things your child could do on his or her worst day. Use a timer as a tool to help your child understand the amount of time in an activity.
    • Object Schedule: These are best used for children with few to no language skills. Use items that are related to the task. For example, lay out a diaper, a spoon, and a coloring book. Hold up the item that is next, hand it to your child, and begin prompting the activity. Make sure the items you use stay the same each time so your child learns what they represent.
    • Visual Schedule: Use a visual schedule when your child can match pictures. The pictures used can be photos, computer-made pictures, or pictures that you draw yourself. Point to the picture or have your child match an identical picture, and then give the instruction to start the task. You can cross off or remove each picture as you complete it.
    • Written Schedule: Use this schedule for children with reading skills. This list can be written or typed. Read to your child or have him or her read the next item. When that activity is complete, cross it off the list.
  2. Next, decide how long your schedule should be. You want to start with a shorter schedule and increase the length as your child is successful.
  3. Decide how you are going to remind your child to check the schedule. This can be done by saying “time to check your schedule” or by handing a card to your child so it is clear that it is time to check the schedule. For activities that may be challenging for your child, consider providing a reward item when they complete an activity. Make sure to identify what they are working for before they start the item on the schedule.
  4. After each activity, have your child go back and check the schedule again for the next activity. It is recommended that you alternate preferred activities with more parent-driven activities. You can start by having an all-preferred schedule to help your child learn the concept.
  5. Monitor how your child is doing with the schedule and how independent the child is becoming with the schedule.
  6. Change the schedule if needed as your child changes and grows.


Behavioral Support - Using a Schedule PDF

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