One of the most common characteristics of autistic children is that they have a need for structure and routine. They like knowing what is going to happen as this makes them feel comfortable and secure. Any changes to the schedule is going to be difficult for your child and learning a new routine can be quite a challenge.
To help your child learn a routine, it is always a good idea to create a picture schedule when you are introducing a new routine to him. Doing this will be very beneficial for him as most autistic children are visual.
You may need to create several different picture schedules to address the different times of day. For example, you can create one picture schedule for his morning routine and another one for his going to bed routine. If your child has a different routine during weekends, it is also a good idea to create a separate picture schedule for weekends or non-school days.
To create a picture schedule, the first thing you need to do is to identify the routine that you want to create a picture schedule for. Think about the steps that he needs to do and try to draft this on paper first. When writing down the steps, it is a good idea to run the routine through your mind so that you do not miss out on the small steps. Keep in mind that every step is important no matter how small it may seem like.
For example, if you are creating a picture schedule for his morning routine on a school day, you may want to include the following steps -
- Wake up
- Make the bed
- Use the washroom
- Eat breakfast
- Get dressed
- Brush your teeth
- Brush your hair
- Get your packed lunch
- Get your school bag
- Go to school
Of the steps written above, you may also need to create an additional picture schedule for steps #3 (Use the washroom) and #5 (Get dressed) as these two steps can be broken down to include several smaller steps.
Once you have finalized the steps to your child’s routine, you can now look for images and pictures which would correspond to each step in the routine. Write down the routine on one column and put the images and pictures on another column. Print this out and put it in a place where your child can easily see it.