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How to setup your Visual Schedule within the Thrive App!

Updated: Jan 8

There are many ways to structure a visual schedule -- there is no one right way. Thus, it is important to think about the individual who will be using the schedule and tailor it to their needs and personality. Click here to learn how to use The Visual Schedule feature within the Thrive app and how to get your child involved in the process!

Many of us rely on schedules to keep up with the daily events of our lives. Schedules provide structure, useful reminders and act as a general guide to keep us on track. It is a daily syllabus of sorts - helping to maintain order both internally and externally. Children benefit from a schedule as well. In fact, many children thrive with a schedule; particularly when they are active mini-administrators in the development of such. This is not an exhaustive list as the feature is meant for you to use it in the way that best supports your child.

Ways to use the visual schedule feature ...

Order of daily activities: Load your visual schedule up with daily activities from the initial moment of rise and shine to bedtime! This could be as detailed/concise as: (1) wake up, (2) get out of bed, (3) use the toilet / complete personal hygiene, (4) eat breakfast, etc... Or it could be more general such as: (1) morning routine, (2) drive to school, (3) complete school-day, (4) bus ride home. Think about your child specifically; do they need every small task written down, or would this be too overwhelming? Can they use a broad prompt to get started, or would this leave them confused about what exactly they need to do? The conclusion and plan may very well be a mix of both! For instance, more specifics regarding the morning routine, but then broader tasks for afternoon.

Sequence of activities during a particular part of the day: Does your child sail smoothly through his morning routine, but fall apart in the afternoons? Or vice versa? You may consider using the visual schedule to guide only select parts of the day that would benefit from the addition of increased structure and prompting. 

Sequence of activities for a day that is "out of the norm": In anticipation of appointments, semi-spontaneous events and/or even scheduled down-time, The Visual Schedule could be exceedingly helpful. If you know that a day’s flow may be altered, be sure to update and use The Visual Schedule to guide your child through a day with special events that are less familiar.

Preparation for an unexpected change: The beauty of the Thrive app is that the visual schedule can be changed in an instant, without needing to look for or make a new picture card! If there is a last-minute change, quickly open and adjust the app to reflect the new schedule. Be sure to call the child's attention to the change so that the revision and new order of events is brought to their awareness. This is a critical step so that they are involved and do not feel blind-sided by the modification.

Sequence pieces of a challenging task: If your child struggles with a specific routine or task such as tooth brushing, making a snack or completing a household chore, use The Visual Schedule to break-down that specific task into smaller, more contingent parts! Ask your OT for guidance, they are masters of "task analysis" and can help.

Schedule specific strategies during the day: Use the app to schedule specific breaks or other strategies that your child uses throughout the day. This could be movement breaks, brain breaks or alone-time breaks. Look to the child to see how specific the scheduled break should be - some may need/want a specific activity, while others will want to select their own at that time. *Note: breaks may be scheduled, but they should also be flexible and taken if/when needed outside of a ‘scheduled’ time. As an ongoing benefit, it becomes apparent that the act of scheduling breaks merely functions as a gentle reminder to take one, especially if the child has not done so already.

Other things to consider ...

Using real life pictures: These are of great benefit when used by more concrete thinkers.  If your child does not yet recognize real life pictures, you may need to start with objects then work towards pictures to be used in The Visual Schedule. Real life pictures are also great for more personalized activities!

Using line drawings: Line drawings are basic illustrations that focus solely on the lines of the image and do not have shading or gradient.  Great for generic activities such as teeth brushing and meal times! 

Be sure to involve your child in the scheduling process... This is crucial! Make sure the child is as involved in the set-up of the schedule as possible. Review it with them in a way that meets their learning needs. Remember that you may need to adjust the structure of the schedule as time goes on - it is a tool with movement and flow that should be utilized, approached in a manner that fits you and your child’s needs.

Mary Hart MacLeod, MS, OTR/L

Pediatric Occupational Therapist

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