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Activity Schedules for Children with Autism

Teaching Independent Behavior, Second Edition
Lynn E. McClannahan, Ph.D. & Patricia J. Krantz, Ph.D.


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isbn# 978-1-60613-003-2
5 1/2" x 8 1/2"
148 pages
30 photos

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"*In this updated edition, McClannahan and Krantz share their 20-plus years of research in the use of picture schedules with children, teens, and adults with autism spectrum disorders. Essential for any family with an autistic child."
Library Journal (*starred review), July 2010

"The authors have worked with people autism for 20 years and their knowledge and experience was apparent. This book was well organized, informative and gave the reader the directions to set up individualized activity schedules for his or her child, student or client. The authors appeared to intuitively know when the reader would have a question and stated when that was going to be addressed.

The activity schedules are visual (pictures or text) and include activities of daily living, play, social interactions and rewards. The approach is dynamic and progresses as the user develops skills. The schedules are to be used throughout a lifetime and examples were given of toddlers in play through to adults in the workplace. Schedules are set up so that there is a graduation of supervision starting with manual contact and than fading to no supervision when and if the person is ready. Hence there is potential for developing independence. Schedule following data sheets are included and the importance of keeping data explained. The use of technology was discussed. For instance, a Blackberry for the young adult allows them to use his or her schedules and look like everyone else in the workplace. The references include research done by the authors.

It appeared that the use of activity schedules can facilitate successful inclusion in the school and workplace. Results of intervention programs described showed that with consistent use of schedules people with autism were on task 80 to 100% of observations, a generally higher result than in a typical day care and public school. I highly recommend this book to colleagues working with people with autism."
-Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, February 2011

"Whether we use a date book, PDA (Personal Digital Assistant), write out daily ‘to-do’ lists or use other organizational tools, we all need occasional prompts to make sure we get to appointments on time, remember to order and pick up prescription refills, and do the laundry.

Some individuals with autism need even more prompting to remember to accomplish daily tasks like brushing teeth, making the bed, doing homework, or to break down the steps to bake a cake independently.

The use of activity schedules to teach individuals with autism to complete tasks independently is based on research conducted at the Princeton Child Development Institute. The authors provide step-by-step guidance and examples for creating and teaching activity schedules for children, adolescents, and adults with autism."
-Newsline, Fall 2010 (Federation for Children with Special Needs)

"In this updated edition of a bestseller in the autism field, parents and teachers will learn everything they need to know to develop and integrate activity schedules in to the daily routines of individuals with autism. In addition to introducing the concept of activity schedules, the authors explain how these sets of picture and/or words can cue autistic person to initiate and complete tasks, structure free time, and engage in social situations. This new edition includes an emphasis on adults with autism and how recent technological advances can play an important part in the activity schedule process."
-Disability Resources Online

"Scheduling is a life skill we all need to learn and utilize to keep our lives organized and to perform activities that are necessary and important to us. This holds true for the autistic population as well but it has always been a challenge to provide structure and transitional activities to promote independence. For families and friends of autistic children and adults, as well as professionals who work with them, a newly published second edition paperback can certainly assist with this!

Lynn E. McClannahan, Ph.D. and Patricia J. Krantz, Ph.D. have teamed together to write Activity Schedules for Children with Autism and walk the reader through developing very simple schedules to technologically complex schedules. More than two decades of research at the Princeton Child Development Center provided the information for this book.

A chapter is devoted to identifying and promoting prerequisite skills and presenting a plan of action to assist the child to be ready to introduce an activity schedule. It is these visual perceptual skills that are often part of occupational therapy treatment session such as identifying pictures from background, matching objects, and picture object correspondence skills. A child must also be accepting of manual guidance and often OT's are working through tactile sensitivities to assist with this.

Key to the success of these activity schedules is a social component which helps teach the initiation of social interactions which are elaborated on and extended as soon as possible.

Brief case study examples weave through every chapter and set up the challenges with discussion on other options. The authors do an outstanding job of identifying and clarifying levels of intervention and support. How to move in and out of these four levels to adjust to the needs of the individual and skills being taught and challenged is also demonstrated. Fading of assistance and re-instituting support is delineated.

In a very forthright and easily understood method, the authors present the basic life skill of building and using schedules. From very simple picture schedules, to written word schedules, and finally to the more technologically advanced schedules on an iPod touch, the methods of advancement are all the same.

Included in this 148 page paperback are very simple prerequisite data forms and schedule following data sheets which determine when a child is ready to be bumped up to another level.

This book would be very helpful for parents, caregivers, therapists, and teachers to initiate and advance schedules for individuals with autism. From preschoolers through adulthood, these schedules can promote independence, on-task behavior, and assist with eliminating the frustrations that are often part of an unpredictable daily routine. The use of visual schedules assists greatly with organizing school and work schedules for autistic individuals and many times is the key to success!!"
-ADVANCE for Occupational Therapy Practitioners

"Written by Lynn McClannahan, PhD, and Patricia Krantz, PhD, Activity Schedules for Children with Autism: Teaching Independent Behavior, Second Edition, is an easy-to-read, parent-friendly resource for constructing activity schedules for children with autism. (The title is a bit misleading. The book also explains how adults can use activity schedules.) Based on more than 20 years of research, the authors have found that using activity schedules decreases problem behaviors and increases independence, self-management, social interaction and skill generalization.

Children first should be tested for prerequisite skills, such as matching identical objects, understanding picture-object correspondence, and discriminating between a picture and the background. The book walks the reader through these tasks and provides data sheets to record user accuracy.

Once the activity schedules are introduced, caregivers can utilize Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) techniques. The authors detail a series of fading prompts used to teach increased independence.

Activity schedules are versatile because they can be designed with only words, only pictures, or a combination of the two, depending on the user’s reading level. The schedule format can be customized to individual needs. For example, those who need more assistance may benefit from seeing a photograph for each step involved in making a sandwich, while individuals who are more independent can use a written checklist of tasks to complete that day.

Activity Schedules for Children with Autism, from Woodbine House, covers the use of timers and voice records and describes how an Ipod and Blackberry can be used to create schedules or checklists. These modifications and opportunities for advancement make activity schedules versatile and useful for all ages in both home and therapy settings.

In addition to providing detailed easy-to-follow, research-based information, the authors present a wide-ranging sample of case studies to give readers a better understanding of the many different ways to foster independence in individuals with autism through the use of activity schedules."
-ADVANCE for Speech-Language Pathologists & Audiologists, January 10, 2011

"The kind of independent behavior parents hope for--doing chores, playing productively, making social contact--doesn't just happen for kids with autism, it needs to be fully orchestrated. If that sort of organization is something you have trouble carrying out independently, this small book will show you just how to make a picture schedule or word schedule to guide kids and adults through increasingly complex tasks."
-Terri Mauro, Guide to Parenting Special Needs
Read the entire review at specialchildren.about.com

"Autistic children are often developmentally delayed with little interest in either familial or peer-to-peer relationships. They can also be prone to angry and even violent behavior when routines are interrupted and change is introduced. Anyone who has spent time with an autistic child understands that helping him or her to learn and develop into a productive member of the family and community is a daunting challenge. In Activity Schedules for Children with Autism Drs. Lynn McClannahan and Patricia Krantz present the activity schedule, 'a set of pictures or words that cues someone to engage in a sequence of activities,' as a promising teaching method for autistic children.

Activity schedules can vary widely in appearance, though they are often a page or pages held in a photo album or a three-ring binder. Each page contains a picture or description of a specific activity on a plain background. When possible, pictures should be arranged to show how the item in the picture is used. For example, 'you might photograph a five-piece puzzle with four pieces, and the fifth beside the puzzle.' Whether play or chores, activities should reflect the skills and interests of the child. The last item in a schedule should be a snack or an activity that the child particularly enjoys.

Children must have certain basic skills in order to use activity schedules, and the book begins with an explanation of how to help a child gain those skills. Once this is accomplished, the teacher or parent can start to create schedules and engage the autistic child in using them. Techniques for teaching a child to use schedules include manual guidance (physically guiding a child through an activity), appropriate rewards, changing locations of prompts, and avoiding verbal instruction. The book also discusses when and how to change activities in a schedule, guiding parents and teachers through the steps necessary to help a child as he or she advances. This second edition covers storing schedules on PDAs, ipods, and other similar devices--tools which can assist an autistic individual who needs to carry a schedule throughout the day. Individual stories provide powerful examples of how people of all ages use activity schedules to structure their lives, from young children engaged in household chores to adults in the workplace.

This is a must-have resource for anyone working with an autistic person, either child or adult. The authors, both of whom are widely recognized for their expertise in autism interventions, state, 'activity schedules provide a framework that helps parents and teachers plan and include many different science-based procedures that help youngsters develop new skills.' This book effectively demonstrates that, though the task is not an easy one, with the techniques and concepts presented here, autistic children can learn to be happy and productive."
-ForeWord Reviews (Digital), August 2010

"There is no equal or substitute for Drs. Krantz and McClannahan's approach to helping parents or clinicians teach people with autism new skills and independence. When my son learned to use an activity schedule over 10 years ago, its use quickly generalized across all the areas of his life. As he approaches his teenaged years, it is still the most effective teaching tool that we use to help him triumph over autism’s challenges."
-Lisa Courey, parent of a 12-year-old with autism

"This second edition book of a well-known classic proceeds to discuss valuable and useful information. Drs. McClannahan and Krantz continue to share more than 20 years of research and experience with readers. Together these experts have developed the concept of activity schedules. This program utilizes pictures or words to provide simple ways to prompt the child in the progression of steps in a task. The development of this ability encourages independence for autistic children who would otherwise not be able to manage life skills successfully.

While the current version does not really offer many new examples or pictures, it continues to be easily read and understood. For someone looking for a follow-up or next steps book, this might not be the answer. New readers to the book, as with those from the first edition, will find scenarios and answers to questions that help guide the reader/user. Current tips for use with modern technology are discussed such as schedule use with iPods, computers and phone applications.

Many of the examples used could easily be adapted to neuro-typical children to help decrease anxiety from uncertainty of a schedule or boundary issues. One prime area could be in a pre-school setting where language skills are still evolving."
-CAPHIS Consumer Connection

"After two decades at the Princeton Child Development Institute, McClannahan and Krantz have developed an activity schedule for parents and teachers. Using this tool, children learn from photographic or reward-based schedules, eventually graduating to independent organization, communication, and completion of tasks. This work also addresses the challenge of honing these skills in a technology-driven society, providing examples of how activity schedules have been created on Blackberries, iPods, and other media. Via this new learning model, physical prompts transcend into mental memory, and children reap benefits that extend into all areas of life."
-ForeWord Reviews, July 22, 2010

"This preeminent text on activity schedules is based on over two decades of research and clinical experience and celebrates the achievement of thousands of children with autism spectrum disorders who have increased independence. Parents and professionals who carefully plan and implement schedules can successfully teach individuals with autism to make choices, enhance their appearance, build social interaction skills, and engage in meaningful activities in their schools, homes and communities. In this edition, the included emphasis on the needs of adults reminds us that it is never too late to learn, and with an increased focus on using current technology, the authors give individuals with autism the tools to fit in to today's world."
-Linda S. Meyer, Ed.D., MPA, BCBA-D, CPT Executive Director, Autism New Jersey (formerly COSAC)

"This is a clearly described and well illustrated book that guides adults educating individuals with autism of all ages to use this evidence-based strategy effectively. There is sufficient detail addressing the challenges associated with autism (prompt dependence, lack of social interaction, difficulty with unstructured time), and to problem-solving issues that may arise when individualizing activity schedules, to assure success. A must have for all educators."
-Laura J. Hall, Professor Department of Special Education, San Diego State University

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