Adjusting to a school setting, including new classrooms, new teachers, and new schedules can be challenging for children with autism spectrum disorder. Transitions are particularly tough for individuals on the spectrum, and sudden changes like those that come with going to school may be discomforting and disruptive for them. However, visual schedules offer one of the best teaching aids for autism and make it possible for kids to establish a routine with a visual point of reference. They can be used for school and home routines and help guide kids with ASD throughout their day to decrease potential stressful situation. Here’s a closer look at the top advantages of visual schedules for autistic children.
Advantage #1 Prevents Power Struggles
Using visual schedules helps prevent power struggles between kids and teachers or parents. A schedule isn’t personal, and it makes the instructions objective. Children can’t argue with a schedule.
Advantage #2 Promotes Independence
A visual schedule allows children with autism to reference their schedule instead of asking for help, which promotes independence. This will enable kids to navigate through the day and transition effectively without someone else telling them what to do or where to go.
Advantage #3 Offers Some Predictability and Reduces Anxiety
Another benefit of using visual schedules as teaching aids for autism is their ability to offer predictability in a child’s day. They build routine and inform kids about their expectations for that day. Instead of feeling anxious about what’s going on next, they can easily check the schedule and see their day mapped out. This reduces anxiety and makes it easier for them to focus.
Advantage #4 Reinforces Verbal Instructions
For many children with autism, expressive and receptive speech are a struggle. This means that they may not respond well to verbal instructions. A visual schedule can be used along with verbal instructions to reinforce them. This reduces frustration for both the student and the teacher.
Advantage #5 Makes Transitions Easier
Switching between tasks can be very difficult for children who have autism, particularly if the changes are unexpected. Using a visual schedule can make those transitions easier. Since the schedule visually shows what will come next, kids are able to anticipate the coming changes. This often reduces the struggles over moving to a new task and lower the occurrence of meltdowns over transitions.
With visual schedules, kids with autism can increase their independence, reduce anxiety, and develop responsibility and self-esteem. Both the National Autism Center and the National Professional Development Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders have found them to be an evidence-based practice, which means visual schedules are well worth exploring as a teaching aid for autism.