What are visual timetables?
Children with autism can really benefit from having a visual timetable because the visual information can reduce anxiety by showing the child what is going to happen in their day. Visual timetables can also aid pupils to be as independent as possible, by visually showing them where they need to go or what they will be doing next.
Visual timetables can vary depending on the needs of the pupil and can be in the form of:
- objects of reference
- hand written
Here are the symbol visual timetables that the pupils in my class use:
How do visual timetables work?
The morning timetable is on one side and then if you flip the laminated card around (attached with the all mighty Velcro!), the afternoon timetable is on the back. The first thing most of my pupils do when they walk into the classroom, is look at both sides of their timetable!
The pupils in my current class are working around P levels 4 – 8. They all understand and recognise symbols and therefore are all using symbol timetables. To signal an ending to a lesson or activity, I will use a sand timer followed by a count down from 5 to 1, and then I will say “what’s next?”. This will prompt the pupil or pupils to go to their timetable and take the next symbol.
The pupils then go to the transition point where the same symbol of a larger size is placed and then match the symbol by attaching it to the transition point. A great way of doing this is by using a clipboard placed close to where the child needs to go. Examples of this would be by a door the pupils will be exiting, on the table the pupils will be going to sit at and on a wall next to where the pupils will be sitting.
The above photo shows the transition point for ‘register’ close to the board we use for the register and morning circle routine. The pupils match and attach their ‘register’ symbol and sit in the seats close to the board. As you can see, there are other symbols attached to the clipboard behind the ‘register’ symbol so that when ‘register’ has finished, this symbol can be moved and the next transition point is ready. This transition point will only be used for activities and sessions taking place in this area.
This system can be used for all forms of visual timetables by using objects of reference, photos and pictures in the same way.
First and then boards
First and then boards (as seen above in the first photo, by the first timetable) can be used as an additional visual prompt, so a pupil can immediately see what is going to happen next by having the board close to them at all times. The first and then board can also be used to motivate a pupil if the pupil is taking part in an activity that they are not particularly interested in, the board can be used to visually prompt that something motivating will happen after the current activity has finished.
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