With school out and families on vacation, summer can mean more free time for children with autism. Activity Schedules are a great way to use that free time for children to have fun while practicing skills they have learned. The structure that Activity Schedules provide may also help to reduce anxiety related to changes that arise from vacations and school dismissal in the summer.With school out and families on vacation, summer can mean more free time for children with autism. Learn how Activity Schedules can help provide support for your child! Click To Tweet
What Are Activity Schedules?
In its simplest form, an Activity Schedule is a list of activities that someone is planning to do. We all have our own versions of an Activity Schedule. Our daily “To-Do” list is a form of Activity Schedule as is our daily calendar with a list of appointments.
For children with autism, an Activity Schedule can take many different forms depending upon the child. For a child who cannot read, it may be a column of different colored shapes, such as a blue circle, red triangle, yellow square, and green diamond with each of those symbols representing a different activity. Each activity can be marked with its corresponding shape. Once the child completes an activity, they can take the colored shape off of the activity and put it on the schedule next to the corresponding symbol. Other children may be able to have a list with pictures of the activities on a page or even a written list of the activities with a line next to the activity to mark with a check once the activity has been completed.
What Types of Activities Belong on An Activity Schedule?
The Activity Schedule should include activities that the child has already learned or will be easily able to complete. This will not only reinforce their knowledge of the skill but also give them a sense of accomplishment for being able to complete the task. The amount of time a child is able to spend on an Activity Schedule will depend upon the individual child.
Simple activities for an Activity Schedule may include:
- Putting the blocks in a shape sorter
- Placing large beads on a string
- Coloring in a shape on a page
- Putting together a wooden puzzle with knobs on the pieces for easy placement
- Looking at a photo of colored stacked blocks and putting the blocks together in the same configuration
More advanced schedules may include connect-the-dot pictures, word searches, reading or math worksheets, sticker mosaics, or simple crafts. Activity Schedules may also include exercises, like shooting hoops or doing a specific number of jumping jacks, toe touches, etc. Activities involving electronics should be limited by using a timer. If the child is going to be allowed to use electronics as part of their Activity Schedule, have them set a timer for a specific amount of time. After the timer goes off, they must move on to the next item on the list.
After the child has completed the Activity List, be sure to have a small reward for them at the end. That reward could be a favorite sticker, a favorite treat, or a few additional minutes of screen time for the day.
Say Hello to Summer!
Once you get started using Activity Schedules for your child with autism, you will be able to use your imagination to come up with more ideas of things that they will enjoy, help them maintain useful skills, and make them more comfortable with summertime changes!
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