Routines and schedules help create and contribute to a feeling of contentment, comfort, fulfillment and satisfaction. Schedules help bring purpose to our days and a sense of control in our daily lives. Think of the impact having a routine and schedule makes in your own life. We want to help people schedule their time during the day in a way that makes sense to them. A person’s preferences should significantly influence their scheduled routine. It is important to remember that everyone’s schedule or routine will look a little different. So, when we are supporting someone, keep in mind that we are scheduling their day and not a day that we think would make sense to them.
Some people may prefer to schedule and plan for the next hour, for the day, for the week or for the month. For example, Fredrick likes to plan each day, but scheduling things too far in advance doesn’t make sense to him and could create more stress. He prefers to plan his daily schedule every morning. Rosa prefers to schedule her week only listing important events on her weekly schedule and leaving the rest up to choice. In both examples, Fredrick and Rosa have a sense of certainty.
Having a picture- or symbol-based, written or electronic representation of activities the person will do in a given day can often help the person know what is (or is not) coming up and show them choices and options throughout their day. Schedules could range from pictures in sequential order without times to everything written down with specific times. Schedules can indicate times of day or lengths of time certain activities will occur. Schedules can cover small or large time periods and can be as specific or as general as needed. Some times of day may show more than one option, so that choices are being presented throughout the day.
8:00 a.m. read the paper and have a cup of coffee
8:30 a.m. go for a walk
9:00 a.m. sew some of my quilt
Read paper and have a cup of coffee
Go for a walk or do a workout video
We all appreciate knowing what we will be doing, when we will be doing it, and when an activity might be available that we would like to do but isn’t currently available. Keep in mind that you are scheduling a day with a person, so they can change their schedules. For example, if a friend calls to talk to Moa at 9 a.m. and she decides she wants to talk, that is perfectly ok. Moa may decide to find another time to sew. Another example, if dinner is scheduled for 7 p.m. but her favorite TV program is on that night, Moa may choose to change her dinnertime or to move where she is eating dinner. Flexibility, predictability and choice are key when working to create a meaningful schedule.