Effective Scheduling For Individualized Instruction: Using A Picture Schedule

Individualized instruction should be a part of EVERY autism program. While large group activities can be of great benefit, the variability of student needs require teachers to provide a substantial amount of individualized instruction.  It can be challenging to organize and schedule not only students, but staff as well.

A picture schedule makes scheduling individual students with particular staff members a much easier task.  Never again ask questions like, “Did you work with John already?”, “Where does Samantha go?”, “Who has not worked with Bill today?”

A picture schedule provides staff members with a quick visual reference that can help to:

  • promote smooth transitions
  • avoid confusion
  • limit down time by allowing staff members to prepare for individual students
  • promote skill generalization


 Take a look at my example and create one of your own!  Here’s how to do it!

1.  Take a picture of each staff member and student.

  • Place on heavy cardstock.
  • Laminate each picture separately.
  • Attach Velcro to the back of each picture.

2.  Decide on location of schedule:

  • Wall
  • Chalkboard/white board
  • Felt board (can be taken with staff member and re-adjusted without staff member having to move!)

3.  Set-up schedule:

  • Staff pictures on the left.
  • Student pictures on the right.
  • First rotation can be “set-up” before students arrive.

Note:  Number of students scheduled with each staff member will vary based on student/staff ratio and individual student needs at any given time.

 4.  Update schedule for next block of individual instruction time:

  • Option 1:  Remove the bottom student picture(s) and place with staff member at the top.  All other student pictures move down one staff member.
  • Option 2:  Re-schedule students based on individual student needs (components of a particular student’s program may require being grouped with another student, instructed individually, etc.).

Let us know how this schedule works for you!

Individualized Instruction Schedule Resource

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2 comments on “Effective Scheduling For Individualized Instruction: Using A Picture Schedule

  1. Carin Hennessey

    Thank you, Tom, for the reminder on this point. And I have a student that is using an iPad app picture schedule, because he is too conscious of a more traditional schedule (Why am I the only one using this, etc.). This is great because it can inconspicuously follow him throughout the day in GenEd, Specials, Lunch, Recess (play schedule), 1:1. You offer great advice to a new Autism teacher like me! Thanks!

  2. Thomas Caffrey

    Hi Carin,
    I appreciate your feedback. You bring up an important point regarding age-appropriateness when programming for students with autism. Utilizing devices such as an iPod or iPad to assist students with navigating a daily schedule can serve them not only now, but in the future as well when paired with effective teaching procedures to ensure independence. As a teacher and a parent of a child with autism, thank you for all of your hard work!


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