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Using Visual Schedules to Support Students with Autism

Posted by Christen Barbercheck on

Using Visual Schedules to Support Students with Autism 
By: Pam Petralia 


Visual supports are a must for students who have been diagnosed with autism. Visuals come in different forms and the format or complexity of the visual can increase as the student progresses. 




  • To reduce prompt dependency 
  • To allow students to be independent  
  • Easy to differentiate 



A great way to reduce worry and preset students is to have students get their schedules ready for the next day each day at dismissal. This helps them know what tomorrow will bring and how to be prepared. 

This preset gives a student an opportunity to talk about concerns and problem solve for activities they are worried about. If there is something coming up the next day that they’re concerned or nervous about, the student can go over what to do if a problem comes up, which coping strategies would be good to use, etc.  



In addition to the main visual schedule, students may benefit from a schedule within an activity or station. Using an activity schedule can help students understand expectations and how long until they get to do a favored activity or be reinforced. This visual schedule could be a checklist that incorporates pictures or cards. 

I find activity mini schedules particularly helpful during remote learning. It helps keep my students and me on track! 




There are many factors to consider when you begin using visual schedules…  

  • Type of visual: object, pictures, clip art, text, combination 
  • Length of schedule: full day, half day, activity schedules, etc. 
  • Format of schedule: on a wall, does it need to be portable, etc.  

Read the blog post, Implementing Visual Schedules, for guidance on creating a visual schedule that best fits your students’ needs. 


Keep reading about visual schedules to support students: 


About the Author   

Pam Petralia has been a special education teacher for over 20 years and has worked in a variety of settings (self-contained, resource, k-2, middle school, etc.) She is the owner and creator of Mrs. P's Specialties which helps teachers easily implement and apply research based practices through tips & ideas, resources and consulting into their classrooms.    

Join her email list for weekly tips on maximizing materials, freebies and tips. 


Links to follow:  

Blog: www.mrspspecialties.com  

Instagram: @mrspspecialties  






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