Using a Visual Schedule

How to use a Visual Schedule through PECS

Visual schedule through PECS (Picture Exchange System)  is the next step once you have established eye contact with your autistic child.

PECS  is a system where you can utilise pictures to provide information which allows your child to communicate by exchanging pictures of an item that they need or a certain activity that they want to accomplish.

A visual schedule or a picture schedule is a method of utilising pictures to guide your child in his whole day routine, an activity routine or to offer your child with a choice of activities. Some activities may coincide with his activities in school.

The visual schedule can be followed from top to bottom, or from left to right. The direction will depend on where the visual schedule is going to be placed, or if it needs to be moved around or if one format works better for your child.

I utilised the horizontal schedule, which is from left to right for my son, John because this has helped him to understand better the next thing that he will do a certain activity.

The guide below is an example of a visual routine activity that I made for John to follow.

visual schedule

The example above taught John how to wash his hands properly. You can utilise this to your child by posting one as a guide near the tap in your bathroom and the other one as a PECS activity that your child can learn with you.

As you begin the activity, direct your child’s attention to the picture. It will also be helpful to show the object or take your child to the pictured item to help him understand what the picture represents.

This is what I did for John.  As he completes an activity, I encouraged him to pull off the activity picture and post it in a “finished” box. I then used an envelope for this. This has helped him understand when a single activity is finished and prompts him to look for what will happen next. I point out the next activity and encourage him to tell me what is next. I also use a prompt to guide John to his schedule. In this instance, I utilise his name with his photo on it.

I was able to successfully implement PECS to John because it has decreased his challenging behaviours, which have helped him increase his attention and concentration to a number of different activities. He has become more independent in his routine and has helped him understand his environment and routine. On my next post, I will discuss how to improve your child’s concentration.

Listed below are some useful websites for symbols and pictures that you could use as resources:

Hope you find this topic about utilising visual schedules through PECS useful. If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to comment below and I will try to answer it as soon as I can. 


Adel 🙂

8 thoughts on “Using a Visual Schedule

  1. If only more parents of autistic child would have better exposure to your website. I am sure they will learn a lot about utilising a visual schedule to their autistic child and be able to share this method with other parents or families who have an autistic child.

    It would definitely save them from making lots of trial and errors themselves. If you could promote your site more often to the relevant authorities, that would be a plus sign for both sides. Keep it up and Best of luck to you Adel.

    1. It would be a great idea if I would be able to share my knowledge on utilising visual schedules to autistic children with other authority sites. Thank you, Rehmiee, for sharing your views. 🙂

  2. Hi, Adel! Thank you for sharing! I find your blog post very useful. Because now I know how to take care of autistic children if my job involves special educational need children. Your post is also useful for other people who have autistic children because they need help in takng care of them. Thank you for your blog post!

    1. Thank you, Anthony, for finding my site very useful to those who do not know what autism is and for those people who have an autistic children to take care of. This is my mission that I want to impart to the world., To create world autism awareness and understanding.

  3. Hi Adel,
    Great information…question, when you first implement a system like this, do you think it will be helpful to draw lines of which direction to follow next? I noticed your PECS didn’t have arrows, so one could have easily followed it vertically.

    And thanks for the picture resources!


    1. I utilised a horizontal schedule guide for my son to follow but it is really up to you which pattern to choose.It doesn’t matter whether it is a vertical or horizontal guide as long as the child is able to follow your visual instruction. I also agree with you that it is best to put arrows on it. The visual guide that I used here is just a sample guide but you could modify it and make your own visual guide through some of the resources I have provided. Hope this helps. All the best!

  4. Love this post! Well written and easy to understand. Also really highlights how visuals are so important in the process of communication. Also, links to resources are super helpful.

    1. Thank you, Katie. Utilising visuals is a great way of helping people to communicate well especially those on the autistic spectrum.

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