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Activity Schedules

An activity schedule is defined as a series of pictures or words, each of which direct a child toward completion of some type of activity. It provides an individual with a visual of what their session/day is going to look like, communicating clear expectations and helping to provide structure and consistency.

These schedules can be created with pictures, text, or physical objects, depending on the comprehension level of the student. When appropriate, the student can assist in selecting and creating their schedule. This gives them a sense of control, and allows them to learn the process for organizing their day and schedules. Ultimately, the goal of an activity schedule is for the individual to respond independently.

Most children on the spectrum have anxiety of the unknown. Creating an activity schedule can help! It sequences an activity and let’s the child know what is happening now and what is going to happen next. By doing so, transitions go much smoother and it allows a child to see when a fun activity is coming! It also provides a way for the individual to know when they are all done.

Benefits of an activity schedule

  • Assists in the acquisition of play skills
  • Increases social interaction skills
  • Using activity schedules is a normal part of community life (Example: Calendars or ‘to do” lists)
  • Helps the child to feel in control
  • Creates an environment of independence
  • Fosters structure and organization

Required Prerequisite Skills

  • Identity Matching (Student knowing the schedule is about them)
  • Matching 3-D objects to their 2-D representation (Ex. A Picture of an iPad symbolizes receiving an actual iPad as a reinforcer)
  • Attending Behaviors (making eye contact/making eye contact in response to name/sitting at a table, etc.)
  • Compliance with adult instructions

Different types of activity schedules

  • First/ Then schedule
  • Physical objects schedule
  • Picture schedule
  • Textual schedule

The use of activity schedules is an effective teaching procedure for individuals with autism in increasing a variety of skills, as well as, independent performance of a sequence of skills. We encourage you to work with your child, developing activity schedules that promote engagement, independence, and positive progress!