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Symbols for home

You can use symbols flexibly with your child at home to:

  • make schedules to explain what is happening now and next
  • explain daily routines
  • provide choices
  • support them to communicate their wishes

Download: Symbols for Home


It can be hard for children to be out of their usual routine. Using pictures helps them understand what is happening now and prepare for what is happening next. Schedules can be changed to suit each child. An overview of what is happening that week and that day can be helpful. A simpler ‘first and then’ schedule is helpful for engaging children with activities and moving between activities or places.

How to make a schedule

  1. Print out the pages
  2. Cut out the pictures
  3. Use blue tack to stick the pictures onto the schedules as needed

How to use it

Daily or weekly timetable

  1. Plan what you are going to do that day and stick the symbols onto the schedule
  2. Talk your child through what is happening that day
  3. When you have finished doing something, say, it is finished and remove the symbol.
  4. Point to the symbol for what is happening next and name it. For example, “iPad is finished, now it’s lunchtime”.

First and Then schedule

  1. Stick the pictures to the schedule
  2. Tell your child what is happening using simple language, for example, “first breakfast, then iPad”
  3. Once you have finished the activity, say it is finished, for example, “breakfast is finished” and remove the symbol
  4. Move the second symbol into the ‘first’ box and add another symbol to the ‘next’ box, for example. “first iPad, then outside”

If you do not have the right symbols, draw a picture to help explain.

Choose Board

It can be hard for children to be out of their usual routine. Using pictures gives them ideas for what to do. It can help give the days some structure and help your child know what to expect and what the choices are.

How to make a Choose Board

  1. Print out the pages
  2. Cut out the pictures
  3. Use blue tack to stick the pictures onto the blank page
  4. If you can’t print it, look at the pictures together on the computer

How to use it

  1. Decide what the choices are for that day
  2. Stick the pictures for those choices onto the blank page
  3. Talk through the choices with your child and decide together what you want to do
  4. Have fun!

Additional resources and information: How to use a schedule

Weekend Words: Morning routine

Time: 3:05

Weekend Words: First and Then Board

Time: 3:08

For more information please contact the Speech and Language Therapy Service at Flockton House on 0114 226 2333.

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: SL243

Resource Type: Article

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