Visual scheduling provides some predictability in what can sometimes be an overwhelming and unpredictable world. This is what makes it such an effective tool to help manage behavior and excessive anxiety in children with NF1. Often better processed than auditory input, visual learning utilizes one of the most powerful senses and channels. For many children with NF1, a visual schedule provides necessary structure and a feeling of control over their environment, ultimately increasing compliance with daily tasks and transitions.
As adults, we often make to-do lists and keep a detailed calendar to help us manage our busy lives. A visual schedule for your child is based on that same concept. It can be very specific and break down a task into its individual components, or it can be a simple, broad list of tasks, covering an entire day.
The Choiceworks app ($6.99, iTunes store) provides these customizable schedules, as well as a visual timer and tools for effective management of feelings and emotions. The app features symbols, which most children are familiar with, but if a symbol is not available or appropriate for your child, you can default to your camera or camera roll. You can also record your own voice to be utilized within the app.
One of my favorite features of this app is the ability to create a timer to go along with the tasks on your schedule. For example, a visual timer can be set for each task, giving your child three minutes to brush his/her teeth or eight minutes to get dressed.
Check out the Choiceworks app and see if it might be right for your family! For more iPad information and app recommendations, check the Family Resources section or St. Louis Children’s Hospital App site.
– Written by Nicole Weckherlin, OTR/L