A visual schedule is a display of words and/or pictures of what is going to happen during the day or part of a day.
The visual schedule helps your child learn the sequence of steps to be completed to get through the day’s activities. A visual schedule can make the sequence more predictable thereby reducing your child’s anxiety about learning a new skill. See the Milestones Visual Supports Toolkit for more information.
To develop a visual schedule to use during toilet training:
- Decide the activities to be displayed including typical parts of the day as well as toileting trips.
- Keep to the usual times of days for activities and add six toilet trips at times that your child is most likely to have to go to the bathroom. You can use your observations of his toileting patterns as described in Part 1: What to Consider Before Getting Started .
- Decide the pictures and words you will use. You can take photos of the different items to be used in the bathroom (e.g., toilet paper, toilet, faucet, handle for flushing, etc.) If your child is in school or daycare, coordinate and share with the staff the words and visuals to use; they can be a resource for pictures and for developing a picture schedule.
- Place the pictures in the order in which the parts of the sequence will occur. You can do this on a piece of cardboard, an open file folder, or even a piece of paper. Make sure that a non-preferred activity (this may include toilet trips!) is followed by a highly preferred one. For example, a toilet trip may be followed by reading a favorite book. Think of this as a “first, then” sequence and not a reward for completing the non-preferred activity. Tell your child, “First, TOILET, then BLOCKS.”