Scheduling For the Holidays With Autism and Anxiety

In our family, we know the importance of a visual schedule. I live by my diary, and we use check lists daily to help teach the boys independence and responsibility. As the school holidays approach, I have found a super quick way to use a visual calendar to help my boys (and myself!) to know what each day brings.

A few years ago I discovered the magic of making a weekly visual schedule for the school holidays. I have found that Mr 9 is much happier when he can see days that we have scheduled to be at home, as well as fun activities with friends and family. And now that Mr 5 is reading, it has helped his anxiety levels greatly to be able to check the chart and see what “type” of day it is.

What Type of Layout to Use?

I have tried using daily schedules for those unstructured lazy days of our “staycations” at home. In particular I adapted one that I found on And Next Comes L that worked for a little while, but Mr 9 told me that he didn’t like being “forced to do stuff” on his days off. It also distressed him that he wasn’t getting enough down time to recover from the pressure of social acitivities. It wasn’t until I decided to write out a colour-coded calendar of the holiday period that he realised just how many “home days” we protected in our schedule.

So these days I write out a weekly calendar, fill in activities, sleepovers/trips, and home days. I colour code the groups so the boys can see at a glance how much they have to be social. And I have found handwriting (rather than printing) to be best as it assures everyone that we can add things in as they come up. It helps us all to have a flexible mindset!

Keep it Simple

Behold my beautiful planner (hehe) for the holidays that are almost upon us! As you can see I have simply torn some pages from last years diary, crossed out the old dates and added plannerthe correct ones. I have used orange to colour activities in public – an OT appointment, a Lego workshop, and a mobility fun day for Mr 9 with Guide Dogs NSW. These are the type of things that take the most energy and mental effort for my boys. In blue we have overnight trips to the grandparents places. In green we have home days – that most important of days to be protected, where the boys can relax and recharge.

Notice the days without anything planned or coloured? These are the spaces that we may add extra social activities to. This assures the boys that their promised time at home will happen! I have also been careful to include travelling time so the boys know what time to be ready to leave home each day.

I have put these up on our whiteboard, and the boys have already checked them out and shared their opinions :). This has given me the opportunity to explain that there are extra home days not written in, as I haven’t counted the first Saturday of the holidays or the pupil free day after the holidays. Getting this sorted before the tears is a must. It is also great for hubby to see what days are free for him to plan family activities!

Hopefully with the planning in place we can get the most out of our break from school, without it taking the most out of us!

[Title image by Donnie Ray Jones click here to see more]


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