I have been using visual aids with my kids for a while now and they both also use PECS to communicate. It took me a while at first to distinguish the difference between PECS and visual aids. Essentially a visual aid is you communicating what is happening / going to happen or how to do something. Whilst PECS cards are for the child to communicate.
Using a visual timetable
The boys are now 4 & 6 and we have been following routines and visuals for a little while now. They also both follow visual schedules at school and pre-school. Up until recently we would just have a home schedule with 1 or 2 activities on as it would mostly be used to support transition to activities outside the house. Now we are home all the time due to the current lockdown we are having to transition between lots of home schooling activities throughout the day.
Transition is often a challenge for my kids if they are not prepared so using a visual schedule really helps them know what is happening. I was really pleased when PECS UK asked me to review their Schedule Board Kit as I knew it would be really helpful right now.
PECS Schedule Board Kit
The kit includes:
- Schedule board including a stimulus & finished boxes
- Two choice cards
- Two activity boards
- Hook & loop fasteners
The picture cards are not included in this kit.
Assembling the kit
The kit was easy to assemble by adding the hook and loop fasteners to the boards and cards. Putting the finished box together at the bottom of the board was a little fiddly. It came flat packed so just needed folding together which took less than 5 minutes. It held well but just to be safe around our two we added a bit of tape to the back to keep it secured. My husband put a nail on the door for us to hang it up in our living room.
Using the Schedule Board
The Schedule Board includes a clear large white box at the top. This is the stimulus box where the current activity is to be placed. This is a really nice design element that makes it really obvious what the current ‘now’ activity is.
Before I go to bed I will set the kids schedule up for the following day. This means when the boys come downstairs in the morning they can see what is happening over the day. The first item on our schedule is usually breakfast which will be put straight into the stimulus box for us to get started.
My youngest has been excitedly going straight to the schedule in the morning to see whats going on.
The Schedule Board also includes the finished box at the bottom. This is a great feature. Mainly to stop me loosing all our visuals, previously I had just been taking them off and putting them on the side or in my pocket and regularly loosing them. The box has quite a bit of room so I can actually keep all our regular schedule pictures in here which keeps them to hand.
Once an activity is finished it is removed from the stimulus box at the top and put into the finished box. The next activity on the schedule is then moved to the stimulus box to represent that it is happening now.
Both my boys picked up how to use the finished box straight away, they seem to really enjoy it. It also gives them a bit more ownership over the transition which helps.
Another feature of the PECS Schedule Board is the choice boards and cards. The two choice cards can be put straight on the schedule with two pictures on to choose from. Alternatively you can put the card on with a choice / choose picture and a blank which is to be filled in with one of the pictures from the activity board.
Making choices is hard for my eldest so this has been really helpful to prompt me to include more choice across the day.
The cards and boards are colour coded so it is easy to have two different types of choice such as a play activity in the morning and a choice of TV programme later in the day. As the boys are using the same schedule at the moment it has also allowed us to give them a choice each.
So far the choices have been fun ones will have to see how we get on when we offer choices of less preferred activities.
How we got on
It was really easy to use the schedule as the boys are used to following similar boards from school and nursery. When we first started with visual aids we just used one activity at a time, then we started using now and next boards before longer routines were introduced.
The fact that the Schedule Board is vertical is great, its easy to scan top to bottom showing a clear activity order. I knew the boys would be able to follow the schedule and use it but I have been surprised at how much they enjoy using it. It provides that clear routine in an easy to follow format. I don’t think we have had a single complaint about a transition between activities all week.
The Schedule Board has genuinely made life easier for all of us. I would highly recommend it, not sure how we were managing without it really.
The PECS Schedule Board Kit is currently £28 and available from the PECS UK website. If you use the code PECS20 you will get a 15% discount off any order between now and the 30th June 2020.
Do you use a schedule board or visual aids. What do you think of the PECS Schedule Board?
You may be interested in my free TV choice board.