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Learning at home: A visual scheduling tool for children with autism spectrum disorder

This resource aims to help you structure home learning for your child using visual support. Visual receptivity is often a key strength for children with autism spectrum disorder, so using visual supports to help them plan and organise their day is a great way to use their strengths to support their learning. Some of the pages included in this resource will be more applicable than others based on your child’s individual needs – the tool is designed to allow you to adapt it to best suit your child, their needs and their strengths.

Daily schedule: This page includes symbols for key events during the day. These symbols can be used as part of a schedule to signal what will happen at specific times of the day, or individually to indicate the current activity.

School work: This page includes symbols for key curriculum areas and common learning activities. These symbols can be used to schedule learning activities throughout the day, or single symbols may be used for a first/then incentive (see below).

Movement, leisure, and sensory: These pages include symbols that are relevant to each of these categories. These symbols can be used as part of a schedule, as an incentive to complete a required activity, or as options for your child to choose from during free time.   

Helping at home: These symbols can be used as part of a larger schedule or as an individual activity that you would like your child to do.

Extras: If you need a symbol for an activity, object, or event that is not included in this resource you can draw or write the name of it in the boxes provided.

Finished: Use these tick symbols with the ‘working for’ or ‘my schedule’ pages to track your child’s progress towards a specific goal or incentive. For example, ‘at the end of my schedule’ may mean time to relax.

‘First/then’ incentive and ‘Working for’: A first/then incentive can be used to help motivate your child to complete a required activity before moving on to a preferred activity. Place the symbol of the required activity in the first box and the symbol of a preferred activity in the then box.

If your child can work for a longer period of time, it may be more appropriate to use the ‘working for’ structure. Place a preferred activity or highly motivating reward in the box with the dotted outline. Each time your child completes a required task, place a finished symbol in the box. When all of the boxes are full, reward your child with the incentive they were working towards.

My schedule: Using is a schedule may be a helpful way to organise your child’s day and to help develop a learning routine. This schedule template is designed to be used per learning block. This means that your child would complete three learning activities followed by a break such as morning tea/lunch or play time. Alternatively, you may use the idea of the schedule but adapt it to suit your child’s learning. For example, you may schedule the entire day by placing symbols on the back of a door or on a wall in order of their sequence and remove each one or cover them up with a finished tick when they are completed. Remember to include regular breaks and activities that your child enjoys doing to help rest their brain and keep them motivated.

Choice board: Place symbols,or write the name of objects or activities that your child likes to engage in. Show the child the board at times when they are able to make a choice about what they would like to do.

This resource has been adapted from the School Closure Toolkit created by Easterseals: Illinois Autism Partnership.