We are constantly talking about schedules, schedules, schedules. What’s the big whoop? Why are schedules so important for children with autism? And why are they a must-have for your classroom? Is there some secret schedule cult you haven’t been invited to join yet? The answer is yes. And I am here to convert you to a schedule-loving maniac like the rest of us.
Children with autism often struggle with receptive language.
This means they often have a hard time understanding what we say to them. That doesn’t mean they can’t hear us or aren’t listening. It means that sometimes our learners have a difficult time processing and understanding what we say to them.
We tend are constantly telling our students what is going to happen.
We can’t rely on verbal language to spread the word to our students due to this receptive language difficulty. When we tell our students that we are going to first work on reading, then do a math activity, and then have art class – they may not be able to process all of that information.
Children with autism have difficulty with changes in their schedule.
As part of the diagnostic criteria of autism (per the DSM IV) – individuals with autism will struggle with changes in the routine. And guess what? Changes happen! So we know that our kids don’t understand everything we say when we talk to them. So how do we alert them of all of these changes and routines that will be occurring in school?
Schedules and calendars show our students what is going to happen in way they understand.
Schedules and calendars are an effective way to show our students exactly what is going on. No matter their receptive language skills – using visual or text based schedules will show the schedule in a way that can be easily processed!