Hot topic alert!! I might be crazy for posting this...I've never been into using visual schedules in my speech sessions.
Why? I feel like they help ME organize my sessions and give me structure, but I never felt like they were helping my kids.
Here are 3 reasons I tend not to use visual schedules.
1. They promote rigidity.
We want our kids to be flexible thinkers - we want them to learn to be ok with last minute changes in their routine, playing with different kids, and engaging in different types of activities. Using visual schedules promotes polarized (i.e., black and white thinking)...first we do this, then we do this. We want to promote flexible thinking. We don't want our kids getting "stuck" on routines, we want them to be flexible.
2. The focus becomes structure, when it should be learning.
In order for the child to get the most out of our sessions and truly learn from us, they need to be motivated. This means that they WANT to do the activities. What better way to keep kids motivated other than letting them choose what to play and when to play it? We should care less about order, and more about whether or not the child is learning the concepts we are teaching.
3. They decrease a child's intrinsic motivation.
Telling a child "first we do this...then we do this" actually DECREASES the child's intrinsic motivation. Research shows that when we use "first...then", all we are doing is making the "first" activity less desirable for the child (Daniel Pink). Now the first activity isn't fun for the child, and therefore the child is less motivated and less likely to learn during that activity. First and foremost, in order to learn, we need the child to be MOTIVATED!
Are there times when I would recommend using them? Definitely! Such as in a classroom setting where the children aren't able to control their own schedules. In that case it helps kids to anticipate what will throughout their day. But generally, in my SPEECH sessions, I tend to stay away from them.
Jessie Ginsburg, M.S., CCC-SLP is the creator of the online course for SLPs, ASD from the Inside Out, and founder of Pediatric Therapy Playhouse, a multidisciplinary clinic in Los Angeles.