Does it work?
Many studies have demonstrated that visual schedules are effective in helping developmentally disabled, and specifically, autistic children. These studies show visual schedules to be effective in helping children to gain independence and increase on-task behavior at school, at home, and in community settings (1, 2, 6, 7). In younger children, this can translate into improved play skills, and a decrease in disruptive and aggressive behavior (5, 7). Specifically, use of visual schedules has been associated with a decrease in disruptive behavior, aggression, tantrums, and property destruction (1).
In older children, use of visual schedules can enhance learning and improve a child's ability to perform the skills required for daily living (1, 3, 4, 6, 7). Visual schedules have also been effectively used to improve physical activity in a physical education setting (7). With time, some children are able to independently use visual schedules to achieve on-task behavior and self-management without supervision (3-5, 7).
The most effective way to use visual schedules is to have them readily available and used consistently (7). Most children seem to enjoy the use of schedules and appear to be excited to see what will be coming next (3, 4). This enthusiasm has been shown to translate into increased peer to peer interactions (3, 4).