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Autism Picture Schedules: Things to Eat, Places to Go, Things to Do

“Pictures are a great reference for parents searching for a method to decrease autism tantrums and meltdowns at various transition times. Your child will feel in control of his/her world if able to have a concrete schedule.” – Gregory Ruel.


Portland, Maine — Children with autism often require a lot of visual supports. An example of this would be a schedule for morning, afternoon, and evening, as well as a “going to the store” schedule or “things to do before bed” schedule.  Often this type of visual schedule will alleviate some of the anxiety over situations that lead to meltdowns and tantrums. 

The ability to move a picture to the “done” often instills pride in accomplishing a goal rather than the thrashing, kicking, biting, hitting, and other behaviors common in kids with autism frustrated by autism related challenges.  For instance, a picture schedule regarding bedtime procedure might have one block each for bathing, dressing, brushing teeth, using the toilet, and then a bedtime story.

Making a Picture Schedule

1.) Use a regular binder and plastic inserts designed for picture slides (can be purchased at an office supply store.)  Next, put a piece of plain white 8x11 paper behind each clear slide holder sheet to make viewing the pictures easier. 

2.) Place tabs on the slide holder sheets to label People, Places, Home Activities, Self Care, Food, and Clothes.  Pictures could be printed off of the computer using Google images or real life images.  Excellent pictures are also available via a program called Boardmaker, which has endless picture symbols that kids with autism are more likely to understand. 

3.) Laminate the pictures with either clear packing tape or contact paper and apply velcro to the back. It’s good to have a few of these schedule boards on hand at any given time as they can got lost quite often.

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Gregory Ruel (Portland, Maine)


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