The Importance of Visual Schedules and Calendars
Holidays can bring about a more relaxed schedule that is filled with fun activities: family vacations, baking, day trips, decorating, and shopping. However, children with sensory processing difficulties or anxiety tend to prefer a very predictable schedule and may feel uneasy during this time. When there is a change in routine or something new is thrown into the day, that element of predictability disappears, and the child can become anxious, upset and possibly act out as a result. He or she may not know what to expect and how to plan for new sensory experiences. After all, with each new activity comes a plethora of new sensory input such as sound, touch, movement, and sight. A visual calendar that identifies daily and weekly schedule changes can help children with sensory processing difficulties or children who have a hard time transitioning feel more comfortable with their holiday routine.
Tips for Using A Visual Calendar or Schedule with Your Child:
- Use a calendar large enough to write down daily and weekly activities.
- Review the calendar with your child daily so he or she knows what to expect for the day and for the weeks ahead. For example, “Today we will go to Grandma’s house. In 2 days, you will see your cousin.”
- Cross off the days as they conclude and review what is on the schedule for the next day at bedtime and again in the morning.
- Be sure to include the first day back to school on the calendar to indicate the end of vacation.
For children with sensory processing concerns, thinking in the future can be very abstract and overwhelming. The visual calendar will be beneficial to make your child’s day to day and week to week schedule more concrete and help him or her be more organized.