Schedules {Visual Student Schedules}

Categories: Resources | Schedules

I bet these were the schedule you all were thinking of when I said Step 3 was schedules, right. As always – there is lots of behind the scenes work! Once student and adult schedules are made – you can now figure out how you will have your student schedules look. Yes – you have options! Don’t feel tied to that PECS wall schedule. Go ahead. Break up with the PECS wall schedule. It’s not you, it’s me. Well – in this case it actually is you. That PECS wall schedule is just too dang big and too limiting. It may just be time for some of our kiddos to move on to new and brighter schedules.

Why do our students need schedules? Some students may not understand when a teacher or parent explains the order of daily events. Students with autism tend to have very low receptive language. Pictures are a great way to help explain what is going to happen next. It helps ease the anxiety of transitions, shows when preferred activities will occur, and helps students understand the length of the school day. There are a few ways you can use a visual schedule.

Strive to make sure each of your students is using the least restrictive schedule. My goal is always to make things the ‘least restrictive’ or most generalized. Schedules have a range:

The Autism Helper - Schedule


Try to make sure you are constantly challenging your students and aren’t stuck in a rut with the same schedule format. There is nothing wrong with a PECS wall schedule if that is what your student needs but make sure you are using a method that is the most generalized!

Picture Schedules:

  • Assign pictures to each area of your class.
  • Label the area with the identical picture.

The Autism Helper - Schedule

  • Put the pictures in the order of events with a finished envelope underneath.

The Autism Helper - Schedule


  • Students take off the picture, walk to the designated location, match the picture, and do the work at the center. When they are finished, they put the picture in the finished envelope and take the picture.

The Autism Helper - Schedule

Picture Schedule Variations:

    • Color coded wall schedule: Add a color coded background to the traditional picture schedule for an additional visual cue.
    • Photo Schedule: If students are not understanding an image representation – use real photos.
    • Object Schedule: Use objects to represent each area or station.

Binder Picture Schedules:

  • More age appropriate.
  • Takes up less room.
  • Lends itself WAY easier for inclusion.
  • To set up: Laminate a piece of paper and put a strip of hard velcro. Match the pieces along the strip of velcro. Put a finished envelope on the inside cover of the binder.

The Autism Helper - Schedule


Paper Schedules:

  • Create visual schedules on paper.
  • Students can cross off each center as they do it (or laminate and use dry erase marker).
  • Print a set for the month and you only need to set them up monthly. This is seriously amazingly easy.
  • You can use visuals or words on paper schedules. You can also increase the complexity by including multiple days on one page.
    • Visual paper schedules:

The Autism Helper - Schedule

The Autism Helper - Schedule


    • Paper Written Schedules: These schedules have the order of daily centers written out. Students can cross off each center as they do them. You can put multiple days on one page. {I have one page for each week}

The Autism Helper - Schedule

Here is a video tutorial of my schedule area organization:



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  1. I haven’t received an email update from you since 7/3. IS there something I need to do?

  2. Omigosh Beth – I have heard this from a few people. I have been having some major problems with the email notifications and I keep thinking I fixed it – but I haven’t. I am so sorry! This is my top priority to figure out right now. Thanks for giving me the heads up!

  3. Thank you so much for the 4th of July sale notice! I really appreciate it! Happy 4th!

  4. I’m finding it difficult to use 25 icons for a day’s worth of work! Between each subject, break time, bathroom time, meals, specials – there are so many icons for each student! I tried putting the ones from arrival through lunch with the rest of the day on the back (as storage space), then switching them from lunch to end of day on front and the others on back.
    I don’t get how to avoid all these icons if they need to see everything….

  5. I would think about using mini-schedules in other areas. So maybe if they go to centers – there is a mini schedule there (first independent work, then reading, etc). I also recommend doing like your doing and having the morning on one side and afternoon on the other. I would have it all ready to go so you can just flip it over at lunch time. Hope this helps!


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