Using Schedules for Higher Functioning Students

Categories: Resources | Schedules

We all know the importance of schedules for students with autism. Most of you probably utilize some type of daily visual schedule for your students (like this one or this one). We know especially how important this for our students with less language to prepare them for changes in their schedule, remind them when preferred activities will occur, and lessen the “what is happening today” anxiety. But what about our students who have more language? What about our students who are higher functioning? How important is their schedule to them?

It is a SUPER common mistake to equate higher abilities with less of a need for these types of supports such as schedules. I often mistakenly assume my higher functioning will be fine and just ‘get it’ since they have so much language. That language is often misleading. Just because they have higher expressive language doesn’t mean their receptive language is as high, transitions/changes aren’t equally as difficult, and they do longer need antecedent interventions. Soapbox rant over.

Think of how mad you would be if your calendar app, reminder app, and note app all were down for the day. I don’t know about you but I’d be lost. I rely on those written reminders and prompts to get me through my day. Our students are the same way!

My higher students have a written daily schedule that is just a typed up order of their activities for each day of the week. Some cross them off as we go and some don’t. It’s their choice.


Another way I schedule with these students is making mini ‘agendas’ in our centers. I write out what we are going to do in the order we are going to do it. This has made a HUGE difference in behavioral issues with this group of students. They are no longer mad about the vocabulary quiz because it was on the schedule and they knew it was coming up. They are rule followers and sometimes you have to take advantage of that!


My school implemented these ‘what’ and ‘why’ boards school wide which I love the idea of! I made some die cut letters, laminated a page, and cut out the middle. I taped it on my main dry erase board and I write with dry erase marker in the middle. We use these for our morning group agenda.

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This is GREAT and ESSENTIAL for students in inclusion classes. These settings are especially challenging and the extra support of a mini schedule can make all of the difference. This intervention is quick and requires no prep! Just grab a post it and go!


  1. I really like the what and why boards!! What a great idea. I might have to include that in my room 🙂

    Brie @ Breezy Special Ed

  2. Sasha,

    I do daily checklists for my higher functioning students! I laminated a simple checklist template (box to check off and a line to write task on) for each student and then I use a wipe off marker each day to make up a quick checklist. I wish I could plan a checklist of their whole week as you do! You are so organized I hope to organize my room more like yours for next year 😀

    My Best,


  3. They are so helpful actually! At first I wasn’t too into but now I love it! The ‘why’ is hard though!

  4. I love that idea Danielle!


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