Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Picture Schedules and Children with Autism

In the previous post I had information about why the blue pocket organizer was so great for teaching routines whether at home or in sessions with clients.  There are several ways it can be helpful when working with children with autism.  

Just to review, I mentioned before that the pocket schedules are great for:

  • Children who are not yet reading
  • Quick processing- the brain processes pictures rather than learned skills (language/reading) more quickly
  • lowering anxiety by allowing children to know what is coming next and feel like they have control
I also believe that it can be good for some children with autism in helping them to be comfortable with changing a routine. All children are different but it may be helpful.  I began thinking more about this when another music therapist was telling a group of us about a client who will not move on to another activity if the activities are out of order or something new has been added to the routine.  One of the clients I have was at one time, not okay with changing the order of our activities/interventions.   Let me just call her, Jesse.  Over time Jess became more comfortable with changing the order of these activities and adding new things to the routine both of which had to do with the pocket schedule, setting out ALL of the activities in a line, and a reward.

  1. Changing the Order-  Since Jesse could see the order of activities and what was coming next every session for several weeks she became very comfortable with our session.  When I swapped two of the activities she could still see that everything else was the same and also that I still had the same activities planned which were in the line she saw every week.  This helped to eliminate any anxiety she might have had from lack of control and unpredictability.  
  2. Adding new activities/interventions- These same ideas can be applied to adding new activities.  Jesse could still see that the rest of the routine was still the same which gave her a sense of control and predictability.  
  3. Rewards-To assist with number 1 and 2, Jesse got a token put on her token chart. These tokens earn her extra time with favorite activities in the classroom.  For each activity she participated in, she got a token.   With that in mind the transition to new or swapped activities went more smoothly.  
It will be interesting to find out how this works for others with similar struggles.  All children respond differently but it is something else to try!  

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