Calendars, lists, and schedules keep our lives in tact and happy. We have three calendars with all our therapies listed, our appointments, and our activities. My autistic son also has two calendars where he’s written everyone’s birthdays, school holidays, and all his therapy appointments. We have a written schedule he follows each morning before school.
Autistic children are visual learners and they (and their parents) thrive on schedules. They love to know what is coming up and are sometimes better prepared than their parents are. My son keeps me in check when I forget someone’s birthday or a therapy appointment. He is quick to point out that I am wrong! Visual schedules are even better because it shows a picture of what comes next and kids usually memorize it after one or two days.
Visual schedules can help calm behavior issues some autistic children experience when they are not prepared for their next task. Schedules help curve anxiety that might come from a child not knowing what’s next in their day. I personally have found when my son knows what’s coming up, he is prepared and there’s no reason for meltdowns or anxiety.
Choiceworks Scheduling App
We recently discovered Choiceworks, by Bee Visual LLC for $4.99, a visual schedule app where you can create picture schedules for morning time, dinner time, and weekends. The interface is easy enough for children to create and customize their own schedules. There are 165 images that come with the app and it includes anything from going to the bathroom to having a snack. We can even add our own pictures of my son in his environment completing tasks to make it even more personable.
My son beamed as he went through his morning schedule the first time. As kids finish a task, they can drag-and-drop the picture to the “All Done” area. You can also print schedules out and have them read to you using the audio feature. The “First-Then” feature helps a child understand the order of tasks and that they must complete one task to move to the next.
This app also includes feelings boards that help children understand different emotions and how to express them. Autistic children sometimes don’t process facial expressions or body gestures and what they mean. You can customize and create Feelings Boards that help them, especially readers, associate the facial expression with the word and a scenario the expression might be used in. Waiting boards also let kids learn about taking turns and sharing or not interrupting. This app is worth every penny because my son is learning about sharing and feelings. The sharing feature can allow parents to email schedules and boards to their children’s teachers or therapists.
Other Visual Schedule Apps
Here is a list of additional picture schedule apps:
- Visual Schedule Planner by Good Karma Applications, Inc. for $14.99 – Create daily, weekly, and monthly schedules. Includes a timer, custom images and sound, checklists, reminders, and notes.
- Video Scheduler by MDR for $12.99 – Create video schedules, share them, and choose from three different video and picture sizes.
- Visual Schedule by DataNull Software for $1.99 – Create schedules and use the “first-then” boards, include pictures from the photo library, and can use the checklists to mark off tasks as completed.
- Visual Routine by Proteon Software for $.99 – Create schedules with images and audio, use checklists to mark off tasks, and use the picture-only option for the non-reader.
Visual schedules have better prepared us for our days and I’m hoping one of these apps helps you, too!
Photo courtesy of: flickingerbrad