Activity Schedules for Children with Autism:
Teaching Independent Behavior


Written by Lynn E. McClannahan, Ph.D. & Patricia J. Krantz, Ph.D.
Second Edition / isbn 978-1-60613-003-2 / 2010 / Paperback / 5.5″ x 8.5″ / 148 pages / Photos



Activity schedules—a set of pictures or words that cue a child to follow a sequence of steps—are an effective teaching tool to help children and adults successfully engage in self-directed and purposeful activities.

Based on ABA methods, learners are taught using a system of graduated guidance—physical prompts systematically faded as performance increases. Once the individual has mastered their use, he or she can independently follow an activity schedule to engage in activities at home, at school, and during leisure time. For example, activity schedules can cue an individual to prepare food with minimal assistance, interact with classmates, and complete a puzzle.

Based on over 20 years of research the authors have conducted at the Princeton Child Development Institute, the second edition discusses the latest research that points to positive outcomes from using activity schedules, including better self-management, decreased problem behaviors, and skill generalization, among other findings. The new edition includes:

  • How to use activity schedules to organize all aspects of a person’s daily activities, and increase engagement, task completion, making appropriate choices, and sequencing activities
  • An expanded section on the use of activity schedules by adults, describing how they are used at home and in the workplace and via iPods and Blackberries
  • How to use activity schedules to promote social interaction and to teach children to point to and show objects to others in order to share a social experience

Detailed instructions and examples help parents prepare their child’s first schedule, then progress to more varied and sophisticated schedules, leading to greater independence.

Written by Lynn E. McClannahan, Ph.D. & Patricia J. Krantz, Ph.D.
Lynn McClannahan is Executive Director Emerita of the Princeton Child Development Institute, one of the first non-institutional programs in the United States for people with autism. Dr. McClannahan’s work has been widely recognized by organizations such as the Senate of the State of New Jersey; the American Psychological Association; and the New Jersey Association for Behavior Analysis. With Dr. Krantz, she developed an intervention model that is used in the United States and abroad.

Patricia Krantz is Executive Director Emerita of the Princeton Child Development Institute. Her research focuses on procedures that increase independence, choice, and spontaneous generative language. She is the author of many research articles and book chapters, and has made international contributions to autism intervention in Australia, Belgium, France, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, and Turkey, as well as in the United States. She and Dr. McClannahan continue to develop new intervention options for young people with autism.