Occupational Therapists have many tools in their toolbox, but there is one thing each of our therapists love to use!
Did you know that more than half of our brain cortex is used to process visual information, making visuals one of the easiest ways to understand input? Visual schedules are a great way to help individuals organize various information like sequencing of activities, skills, and routines, or break down a task for better comprehension! They are also a more effective way to communicate with kiddos that may not always respond well to verbal directions.
Visual schedules are great for promoting:
Visual schedules can enable children to become less dependent on caregivers, teachers, therapists etc. by providing visual cues to help initiate the next step. This allows the child to continue with tasks, skills, or routines with less redirection! Children can sustain better attention to a task when the next step or activity is already provided for them.
Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)
Visual schedules are very useful for breaking down steps to everyday tasks like brushing teeth or getting dressed. Implementing a step-by-step visual can help children learn to sequence and perform steps in the correct order to complete tasks more independently.
Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs)
Providing a visual schedule can also aid children with organizing information, helping them to follow multi-step directions needed to complete chores, or navigate assignments needing to be completed for school.
For children who often have difficulties with expressive and/or receptive communication skills, visual schedules can also be a great way to communicate with a child by presenting information in a more approachable form.
They can also serve to
· Provide sense of routine and control
· Prevent unwanted/negative behaviors
· Carry over learned tasks or behaviors to other places/settings
Types of Visual Schedules
Visual schedules can be presented in a variety of ways and are very customizable to best fit a child’s needs! Different types of visual schedules can be used to target different skills.
Sometimes it’s not what we say, but how we say it! Visual schedules can help us communicate information in a way that allows kiddos to more effectively process and apply information to their daily lives. Not to mention, one of the coolest parts about visual schedules is that they can be used at home, in the classroom, in therapy- anywhere! We’d love to hear about your experiences with visual schedules or any questions you may have in the comments below. 😊
Happy OT month!