Visual Schedules and Preschoolers with Autism
Visual schedules are commonly used by children with Autism. These schedules permit non-verbal or language deficient children to effectively communicate using pictures instead of words. PECS cards are the most common form of augmentative communication aid available to children with Autism. You can learn more about PECS or, Picture Exchange Communication System here.
Visual schedules come in many forms. Individual parents and teachers work to find the most useful design for their child or student. Some use laminated strips, others use notebooks with Velcro on the front, and others use portable folders or laminated sheets. Another option is an activity board.
Creating Your Own Visual Schedule Activity Board
With a few inexpensive items, you can create an attractive and effective visual schedule activity board for your preschooler. You will need the following items:
- Carpet tile, mat, or small remnant, preferably short pile
- Sturdy picture frame without the glass*
- Velcro strips or dots
- Assortment of laminated PECS cards
*If your carpet tile has an unyielding backing, you can forgo the picture frame.
First, apply the hook side of the Velcro to the backs of all of your PECS cards. You will not need the loop side since the carpet will naturally act as the Velcro loop. Set the cards aside in a Ziploc baggie, or other storage vessel.
Next, measure your carpet remnant to determine the size you need and cut. You can make your activity board as large as you like. An eleven by fourteen inch picture frame is a good option, but you can choose any size. Cut your carpet remnant to fit inside the frame. If you are using a carpet tile, no cutting is necessary. You can purchase a carpet tile in the size you prefer.
Insert carpet remnant into the picture frame and secure. You can use the pegs on the back of the frame or a piece of cardboard and heavy duty clear tape.
Your activity board is ready for hanging. Hang as you would any picture frame, but be sure to hang it low so your preschooler has access to it.
Using Your Visual Schedule Activity Board
Now that your activity board is finished, you can create a picture schedule for your preschooler. Using the PECS cards, create a morning routine. For example, you can choose a card that shows a boy getting dressed, a bowl of cereal, a toothbrush, and a school bus. Place these cards on the activity board. As your preschooler completes his morning routine, help him remove the appropriate card.
Another way to use the board is to offer morning choices. For instance, when breakfast time rolls around, you can have three or four PECS cards of different breakfast options. Have your preschooler choose his breakfast. Later, you can place PECS cards of different toys or outside games and have your child choose the daily play activities.
Endless Uses and Opportunities
This visual schedule activity board can be used in many ways to fit children of various ability levels. You can begin with actual photos of your preschooler’s favorite foods and toys and then progress to universal PECS designs. The board is portable and durable. You or your child can move it from room to room. The possibilities are endless with this custom augmentative communication board.