Step By Step…Repeat…Again

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Over the summer we decided to help Johnny become more independent with his life skills and get him used to following visual schedules on his own. At school they want him to be able to follow a visual schedule regarding classroom activities without the help of his EA and also use visual schedules to gain independence in other school skills.

We did a little research and found that if we downloaded a “trial version” of Boardmaker Studio we could create various visuals customized to our needs.

Once you have Boardmaker Studio you can create a profile on Boardmaker Share and download lots of visuals shared by other parents and professionals. We also found many social stories on here that we quickly made into PDF files. One that was really useful was what to expect when you travel by airplane including all the steps at the airport.

The first visual we decided to teach Johnny was his morning routine. He tells us what the image is and then if he’s completed the task he moves it to the right. At the beginning he would get a bit upset because he realized that the schedule meant that playtime was over. Now Johnny is reassured by the morning schedule and is happy to tell us about it and follow the sequence and have an end or goal. We have made two copies with one on the main level of our house and one for his bedroom. What’s cute is Johnny’s 2 year old sister, “Princess” is proudly pointing and going through the morning visual now too.

Then we created a bedtime routine.

Following this visual schedule is a challenge because Johnny tends to get elevated during the bedtime routine. He gets overly excited, stims, moves fast, laughs, giggles so we need to do a lot of prompting and reminding to go check his schedule.

A “Coming Home” routine we felt would be really beneficial especially once the colder weather comes and we all have so much gear to take off. We also find that once the gear comes off, Johnny just wants to zoom in to the living room to his toys and not want to go to the bathroom so having a visual reinforces the expectations on him when he comes home.

We have a “brushing your teeth” routine which we will roll out later. Johnny has recently transitioned to kids toothpaste which he absolutely hates because of his sensory issues around his mouth so we’ll wait until we have him be independent with this routine.

I have to admit that over a year and half ago I was not very enthused about making a bunch of visual schedules to be used at home. I had taken a few courses and had been taught why this was a great way to teach a child with Autism but I guess I wasn’t completely convinced. I decided to start simple and small and see how Johnny would take to it. We did “House Rule” to reinforce what our expectations are at home and a “washing hands” schedule. After many repetitions Johnny could start getting my attention, pointing and then telling me what he was referring to. Soon when he went to other people’s houses he would ask where his pictures were. Mommy was then sold.

Copyright Mayer-Johnson and Boardmaker


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