Visuals have become a key ingredient in successful therapy sessions for me. I remember in grad school, visual schedules were a huge deal. I did not see the importance of them and occasionally got in trouble for not using them during my therapy sessions. However, since then I have greatly changed my tune. I love using visual schedules in therapy and I use one in every therapy session. I initially started using them to help eliminate negative behaviors during therapy. You know, the "I want to play Angry Birds," "Are we done yet?" "I don't want to do this anymore," etc. which was always followed up with a, "Do I get treasure box now?" at the end of the session. However, I have learned that even the best behaved little angels like having a schedule, too. Heck, I enjoy a schedule! So, I establish the schedule at the beginning of the session so that the student has a clear idea of what he/she will be doing in therapy that day. He/she also knows what has to be completed before they earn treasure box or whatever is the reward for that day. As far as rewards go, I prefer to use "My Choice" as a reward at the end of the session. This allows the child to choose any app, activity, or game that they want to play for the remaining amount of time.
Above is a photo of the visual schedule I use. I used to print one out for each kid and let them put a sticker next to each task after it was completed. That worked well, but was a big waste of paper and printer ink. So I decided to "go green!" I printed this one on card-stock, laminated it, and added velcro. The pictures are from LessonPix. When the child comes to the table, the schedule is ready for them . We go over the activities for the day and get started. After an activity is complete, he/she can move it to the "All Done" side or just completely remove the item from the board.
For some of the younger kids, they cannot wait until the end of the session for a break. For these children, I have multiple "My Choice" cards and I alternate an activity with a free choice to help them get their wiggles out! I always use a timer during their multiple breaks. This helps get them back on track pretty well.
For the kiddos that like some control, I start my schedule out like the one pictured above. I choose the activities but I let them decide the order. This way it is usually a win-win for the both of us. That's the beauty of this schedule, it is so versatile!
I keep all of my pictures in a plastic baggie... nothing fancy :)
Visual schedules are not just great for therapy sessions. I often suggest to parents to establish a visual schedule for their routines at home!