Today, we are talking about using activity schedules for children with autism in order to teach them how to follow a schedule, become more independent, and follow routines things like dressing, independent play time, or an evening routine. These activity schedules can even be used for older kids to learn how to do things like washing clothes. I explain how we have used these activity schedules for Lucas every single day for over two decades.
How to Use Activity Schedules for Children with AutismThere is a great book from 1999 called Activity Schedules for Children with Autism: Teaching Independent Behavior. As a behavior analyst I was able to take this book and put it into action almost immediately. And I still use activity schedules for my son, Lucas, to this day. Lucas’s activity schedules are small photo albums with pictures of each step of a routine with text describing each action. For instance, with his morning routine book he goes downstairs, gets his medication out, then takes the medication with applesauce. He has pictures and prompts for going downstairs, getting the medication out of the container, and then taking it with applesauce. As a side note, I have a video blog on taking medications, and it would be ideal for Lucas to take his medications with water. But he learned with applesauce and we’re okay with him continuing to take it this way. His morning routine continues with him getting turkey bacon out, putting 5 pieces on a plate, then in the microwave for two minutes. Then he eats, cleans up, and puts his dishes in the dishwasher, cleans the countertop and sweeps the floor. Again, there are pictures and prompts for each step.
Types of Activity Schedules
When using activity schedules for independent play or leisure time activities, it’s important to start out with just a few activities that the child enjoys, completes quickly and independently. This time can be expanded to 30 to 60 minute sessions where the child could choose between puzzles, do the puzzle, and then clean up before moving onto the next page for a matching game or a vocational task.