Using a Timetable / Visual Schedule

Many people rely on daily visual schedules to tell them where they have to be and when, examples including school timetables, diaries, calendars and personal organisers on mobile phones. Students benefit from visual schedules across all parts of their day and in all settings.

The aim of visual schedules is

  1. To show the student what is happening and when
  2. To provide predictability
  3. To prepare for change
  4. To promote independence
  5. To reduce anxiety

Schedules should be individualised and should be at a level easily understood by the student. Factors to consider include:

  • How many activities to include on the schedule:
  • Method of communication
    • Functional object
    • Object of reference
    • TOBI
    • Photograph (with/without word)
    • Symbol(with/without word)
    • Written

The student should be able to easily understand the schedule, even during their most difficult moments.

Presentation of the schedule should be

  • Top-to-bottom
  • Left-to-right
  • Location of schedule
    • On pupil’s own desk
    • On wall in the classroom
    • In a transition area beside other pupils’ schedules
    • Portable
  • Checking schedule
    • Transition Object/symbol given to the student to indicate time to check schedule
    • Object/symbol at end of an activity system to indicate they should check their schedule
    • Verbal prompt
  • Manipulation of Schedule
    • Object/symbol is matched at the activity
    • Object/symbol is posted in ‘Finish’ box/envelope
    • Activities ticked off as done
    • Activities ticked off when commencing the task

As described, the type of schedule and how it is used will depend on the individual. The teacher will be able to decide which best suits the student through assessment.

A number of examples are included below.

Lines drawing First/Then Portable schedule

Written word checklist

Some schools use a colour coding system in which each subject is given a different colour, and this colour is then used on the timetable and the corresponding classroom doors and text books/folders.

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