Sunday, May 8, 2011

Reminder Boards! A Type of Visual Schedule

Besides the wall schedule Samuel uses, we also make use of "Reminder boards"  These are 6" X 3" laminated pieces of poster board that we use in order to help keep him on task, while minimizing verbal prompting(Two psychologists, Lynn McClannhan, Ph.D., and Patricia J. Krantz, Ph.D., of the Princeton Child Development Institute, did a 10 year study regarding the teaching of independent behavior in children with autism.   I highly recommend their book Activity Schedules for Children with Autism.  This is a great book to help parents understand why acitivy schedules are helpful and the importance of correct prompting.  If you look this book up you'll notice there is a more recent edition as well.)

These first two reminder boards help him during his school work. They sit on the table along with the third board showing what subjects he will work on at that current "session" of work.

(This "reminder board) prompts him to get his pencil box, and then put it away when we are finished.)

(This reminder board is to help him remember what his physical demeanor should be during "work time.")

(This shows what tasks he will complete during that session of "work time."  There is space for 5 activities, but I learned early on that trying 5 at a time is not optimal, even though the amount of work he does is quite minimal.)

It can be cumbersome to work with all 3 of these reminder boards at one time, and this does not even include the maneuvering of his papers and books on the table as he does his work.  Also, I had forgotten that initially I was maneuvering not only all of this, but also a token board and small edible rewards!  I haven't needed those in a LONG time!  I try to stack these boards one on top of the other so that not as much space is taken on the table.  It took weeks and weeks for me to figure out how to manage it all.  It took months after that for me to see the benefit of using these. If his attention wanders during school work now, all I have to do is remove his papers or books.  That action seems to serve as a prompt to draw his attention back to his work.

This next board is one I made up to use at church.  We have been using it for almost four years now.  I have found it difficult to use because of its large size, but have kept it as is.  In the coming months I may try to change it.  He has recently taken interest in a "sensory story" about going to church that we got from one of his past Occupational Therapists.  I have done several posts about Samuel's church behavior.  I'll post more about it in the future.  I am doing my best to juggle my desire for him to attend church with us, the reality of his ability to participate, while minimizing the disruption that his behavior might be to others sitting around us. 


This last reminder board is for when we eat at the table.  Teaching Samuel to chew with his mouth shut has been very difficult.  After watching him for a while, I realized that he seems to not be able to breathe through his nose while he is chewing food.  A speech therapist we saw for a while was starting to help me work on this, but we had to stop seeing her because of his behavior difficulties.  The therapist recommended that I take him to an ear/nose/throat specialist, which I will do one of these days!  In the meantime, the reminder board is effective for short amounts of time. 

You may notice in the photos that these reminder boards are well used and worn.  Some of them have been around for 3 or 4 years now!  I am in the process of re-doing some of these, and am finally getting around to making "reminder strips" to break down some of Samuel's self-care tasks.  In trying to answer another mom's questions about getting a visual schedule started for her son, I came across this website that has given me some ideas.  I'll post about these as soon as I can!

In recent weeks Samuel has taken a lot of interest in these reminder boards.  He gathers them all together and talks about them.  He even put together his own board about what he should do when he goes shopping!  (Long ago I had made a "fill in the blank" schedule piece.."When I _____________ I should ___________."  It has sat unused in his schedule binder, but now it's there to work with!) I'm trying to take advantage of this interest he has!

I would love to hear comments and suggestions from others about these, and about what kinds of visual aids you use to teach your children.  The development of visual schedules is time consuming and the progress can be very slow.  However, I have found them to be very helpful. Some challenges we still face regarding them:  moving forward to the point where Samuel is more independent in following/creating them and getting the school to use what we use.  (They use visual aids, but not like mine, and I don't think he has his own.. he uses what the entire class uses.  Also, I'm not sure if teaching staff understands the importance of minimizing verbal prompting..)


chrisd said...

As a mom, you are doing what a spec. ed teacher and aide would be doing. Actually you're doing more. And you will reap the benefits from your hard work.

Well done!

Charlote said...

This is such a wonderful idea! I have something very similar set up for my son who also has autism. It has been really helpful for him. I also found a lot of helpful advice at I hope that you find this website useful too.