Haven’t we all gone through those pangs of anxiety when we experienced something NEW? Be it our first day in school, job interview or even when we were getting married. We all felt ANXIOUS when we entered a new phase. It is similar with people on the spectrum – they feel anxious too. Their brains are programmed in a way that they feel anxious more. Most people on the spectrum are excellent visual learners (again that is how their brains are programmed). So in order to reduce the anxiety level and to prepare them better Visual Schedule is an effective way. It manages anxiety in autism and settles them down better for daily routine and new events.
How to follow visual schedule
There are many ways to select pictures for visual schedule. This is how we did.
- One may select a wall or door (where the child frequents most). We selected a wall.
- We made lot of pictures of daily routine for my son (getting up, brushing, eating, taking bath, toilet, school, park, going out to name a few). It was personalised where my son himself was in the pictures.
- We took four pictures at a time (in sequence as it happened in my child’s daily life) and stuck them on the wall vertically. One may use tack or double sided Velcro to stick. So my son would look at the first picture and finish the assigned task. So if brushing was the first task he would brush. Then he would come back take the picture associated with brushing and put it in box (you may choose to use bag) as the task was finished. Then he would see the next picture and again finish the task and do the same as done earlier.
- Once all the four pictures were finished then we would add set of 4 new pictures again and continue this process the whole day till he went to sleep.
Initially the child has to be taken through this process. Gradually he will understand and start relying on these pictures for his daily routine. The time duration will depend on child, he may take a month or several months. We found our son himself going to see the pictures trying to understand how his day would look within a month. He learnt to regulate himself through pictures.
Visual schedule can also be a great tool for communication/ language development if accompanied by parallel talk (where caregiver talks for child and self). So the child hears rich language and slowly starts picking up more language. Parallel talk can be narrated like a story with some effective intonation. As the caregiver keeps following parallel talk it becomes a habit and easier to follow it. Child learns to communicate for basic needs like food, toilet etc and slowly starts forming sentences for speech.
Copyright © 2016 Barnana Chakraborti