How Visual Schedules Help Special Needs Children

We use many tools to keep our days organized, from our old-school notebooks to our online calendars. They’re so handy for adults. Why wouldn’t we give our kids the same types of tools to organize their days? It turns out that children benefit from scheduling tools, too. But theirs look a little bit different.

How Visual Schedules Help Children With Special Needs

Behavior therapists have been using visual schedules for the last 25 years to help children stay focused and transition from one task to the next.

What are Visual Schedules?

A visual schedule is just like it sounds — except it doesn’t have to be a schedule for an entire day or week. A visual schedule can be put together for smaller routines like using the toilet or preparing a meal.

Kids depend on visual cues a lot more than adults. The visuals stimulate a memory better than words, especially if they don’t read well!

But not all visual schedules work for every kid. Here are three different schedule options: 

Schedule Board

Do you prefer to have something mounted on the wall that your kiddo can’t move? In that case, you’ll want to look at a visual schedule board like schkidules. These are super colorful, and you’ll see them more often in the classroom—so they’re something your child may already be accustomed to.

They’re a little bit more limited as to how much you can show, but they usually have most of what you need for younger children. 

Schedule Worksheets

Sometimes it helps to write the schedule out with your kiddo. For that, you could use your old trusted printer and a marker. You can find a lot of worksheets available for purchase on sites like teachers pay teachers. If the worksheet is basic enough, you might even create your own. The key is to customize the worksheet for your child’s particular needs and ability to understand.

Digital Schedule

Do your kids like screens? You might have considered putting their digital schedule onto a tablet or phone but worried about all the potential distractions of such devices. Goally, a visual schedule app for special needs children, was created with that thought in mind. Their dedicated device, which doesn’t have a web browser, app store, or anything like that, works strictly as a scheduler.

Some families will have Goally travel with the kiddo to school or between homes. Other families limit Goally strictly to home, so it doesn’t get lost. The digital tools may run a bit more than paper or board schedulers. Still, the tradeoff is constantly being updated with new features like recording customized audio and video instructions. 

How Visual Schedules Children Help With Special Needs

Finding the right fit for your child is the ultimate key. It can take a bit of trial and error, but the ultimate payoff in focus, empowerment, functional skills and educational outcomes is well worth the effort.

Sasha Shtern

Sasha Shtern is CEO of Goally, a company dedicated to making software for special needs kids. Goally’s tools help parents implement at home the strategies professionals use in clinics and schools.
A successful serial entrepreneur, angel investor, co-organizer of Ethereum Denver, and co-founder of Rocky Mountain Blockchain, Shtern advocates for other serial entrepreneurs to move into social enterprises. In 2015 he co-founded Impact Makers Table, a nonprofit dedicated to channeling data-driven philanthropy. He is passionate about education policy and healthy eating for kids. Education University of Colorado, Denver and Harvard Business School.

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