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D.I.Y Visual Schedule

written by Terri Matthews September 11, 2018
Terri Matthews

By Terri Matthews

Motivational Influencer and a Life Advocate with unshakable Faith. My commitment to see you thrive ignites my purpose to illuminate your journey beyond past or present obstacles in life. You are meant to succeed.

Change is difficult for all of us and change is an ever-constant factor in our lives.

As a mompreneur, getting ready for changes such as preparing for back to school can include hectic planning with last minute adjustments.

This can be a challenging time also for parents like myself with a child with autism due to the unique needs and considerations that must be addressed concisely for fluid transitions.

Considering these struggles, there is hope!

I have found creating visual schedules for my son Jaden and for the family as a whole is a fun usual activity to help plan for the things ahead.

What is a Visual Schedule?

Visual schedules is a larger term referencing any form of a visual tool (with photos, drawings, words, numbers) to assist a person to understand what will occur and when it will occur.

They can display an overview of a month, a week, a day, an hour, and/or the steps within an activity.

Visual Schedules are powerful tools in busy families like myself.  As an entrepreneur with a schedule to maintain along with my families unique needs, they have helped us adjust to changes in our day to day tasks, encourage interaction and participation in our routines, and support our transitions, especially with Jaden to easily help him get through the day.

How are Visual Schedules Useful?

According to the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders, visual schedules are effective for an individual diagnosed with autism specifically by helping to reduce the time needed for change, increasing on task-oriented behavior and support play skills/interaction.

Also, they are easy to make and are beneficial to families but also to work with teams and those managing work teams!

Why Use Them (Personally or Professionally)?

D.I.Y. Visual Schedules support universal skills that all people need to remain effective in all areas of their lives such as:

  • Adjustment to Change (because change is always constant).
  • Time Management.
  • Stress Management (reduce the anxiety around change).
  • Reinforce Verbal Instruction and Communication.

Creating your own visual schedule affords the space to make a family fun night activity or a team building activity for those you work alongside professionally.

Either way, D.I.Y. Visual Schedules are a win and you won’t go wrong implementing them in your life!

For more information about how to create your D.I.Y. Visual Schedule, watch my latest show on visual schedules here.

D.I.Y. Visual Schedule Activity

Items Needed:

  • Familiar photographs from around your house
  • Magazine pictures, comics
  • Cereal box pictures
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • White and Black Construction Paper
  • Velcro if you would like to have pictures you can take on/off
  • Clear contact paper or laminating paper


  • Step 1:

Talk about the schedule you will be creating. Organize what you say by talking about what will happen FIRST, NEXT and LAST. Talk about the vocabulary related to the activity.

  • Step 2:

Go through comic books, magazines, the internet, and newspapers to find pictures that represent each part of your visual schedule and you and your child can cut them out. If you do not have access to pictures, you can easily draw or write simple words and put an open box next to the picture for them to check off as they go through the schedule.

  • Step 3:

Take an 8 x 11 piece of paper and either laminate it (if you have one) or cover with clear contact paper (you can get at your local hardware store) to keep your schedule from getting messy so you can use it often.

  • Step 4:

Decide together with your child what the schedule will look like. For example, if you are creating a schedule to get out the door in the morning, be sure to include pictures of things and activities your child finds important to do in the morning (i.e. say goodbye to their dog).

  • Step 5:

If you choose not to laminate or use clear contact paper, you can glue the pictures you have cut out onto an 8 x 11 sheet of paper. If your paper is laminated or covered, you can do a few things.

  • Step 6:

Review the schedule with your child before you start the activity, and either has them place the pictures on using Velcro, touch each picture OR just check them off as you go through the activity.

  • Step 7:

Praise your team members and/or child for doing this activity together. Where there is gratitude, there is success!

Helpful Tips:

  • Be careful with scissors, and if using a laminator, be careful as they can get hot!
  • Note, if you are not going to use pictures, you can also use a small write erase board to write out the schedule in small phrases or draw simple pictures and have your individual with autism check them off.

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