Okay, so you have your pictures printed and you are wondering what to do. First, cut them out. Then cut out a 2″ to 3″ tall by 5″ to 8″ long piece of paper, any color will do. Then go to Fedex Kinkos, Staples or some other place that has a laminating machine. Put all the pictures and your strip on the laminator, carefully leaving space between so when you cut them out they’ll still be laminated. Then cut them out and apply a velcro tab to the back of each. On the strip you will need a long strip of velcro. This will be your schedule. The only thing I’ll say about the velcro is you have to be consistent. For example, I use the “soft” side of the velcro on my pictures and the “hard” side on my schedules.
If you are like us at all you have a ton of pictures and nowhere to put them. This is where a 3 ring binder or portfolio comes in handy. We use an old Franklin Covey binder of mine. It is perfect, and we simply put velcro down the pages to hold the cards. We also divided it into sections, so there is a section for sensory activities, rewards, activities and the like. I’ve seen some folks with laminated pages, but I didn’t really have time to put that together. Still, this is where you make it functional for your life and convenient to carry. If you don’t have it with you then you can’t use it.
So now you have your pictures, schedules and an organized carrying case. How does it work?
We do our schedules with Raymond. We have an idea of what our day will be like, so we start choosing activities based on our day. For example, over the summer we would start with him sitting on the toilet so that would be our first picture. Then we would move on to an education activity for which we use the “work” picture. After that we did a fun activity, like art or tracing, and would do a reward after that. I try not to make it too complicated and stick to 4-6 items on the schedule. Raymond has really settled in and become more comfortable since we started using it.
I like knowing what is coming at me. I have a schedule for every day and use time management software to keep track of what I’m doing. I look at this as training for adulthood. As adults we all use schedules, calendars and to do lists to keep track of our day. The visual schedule is a kids picture version of that, and it really helps kids on the spectrum understand and prepare for the world they meet. Its a great tool, and I hope you use it! If you stumbled upon this post second, you might want to go back and read the first post in the series.