Schedules are a staple of all therapy sessions, but are especially useful for hyperlexic learners (HxLs). Not only are they an effective tool during therapy, but they can be used to inspire positive transitions, increase the likelihood of task completion, and promote positive behaviors across all environments and situations.
Schedules can be as broad or precise as the situation requires. Dereon may need a schedule loosely outlining his day while Emily may benefit from more precise schedules outlining each activity. Tristan may appreciate a comprehensive schedule of all 12 things in their day while Jackie may benefit from only 2 steps like a “First | Then” board.
As a general rule, schedules should be written with short statements, frequently only one to two words. Additionally, while it is recommended that the language remain constant, it can be helpful for the steps themselves to be flexible. A whiteboard or velcro schedule are go-to tools for controlled yet manipulable schedules.
For example, the schedule for the morning might be:
- Wake up
- Get dressed
- Eat breakfast
- Get backpack
- Catch bus
- Go to school
We don’t want to encourage changing these phrases, like adding a “don’t” before “catch bus” or erasing “wake up.” However, we want to be able to demonstrate flexibility if we need to change the order of these steps one morning, or insert a new step like “brush teeth.” Additionally, there may be something unexpected that occurs, so you might need to visibly cross out/remove “catch bus” and write in “grandma drives to school.”
Schedules can provide benefits beyond easier transitions, too. A schedule provides a concrete, visual reference to refer to when asked, “what did you do today/over the weekend?” Schedules can also be used as reinforcement. If your HxL is distracted, or wants to do something else, you can choose to refer to the absence of that activity on the schedule (i.e. say something like “that is not on the schedule, it is time for _____”), or choose to add in their desired activity as a reward after the completion of their task. You can also choose to incorporate positive reinforcement as part of the schedule, such as putting a sticker next to each step once it is completed, or earning a letter once a step is complete to spell out a target word by the end of the day!
Timers can also be helpful additions to schedules to concretely and visually demonstrate expectations.