Using Picture or Video Schedules for Successful Transitions | Organization for Autism Research

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Picture schedules are a favorite easy-to-use intervention for parents and teachers. These visual supports are easy to create, portable, durable, and easy for children to use independently. Video modeling is quickly becoming another frequently used intervention. Both strategies focus on the visual strengths of individuals with autism. In a recent article published in the journal, Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, researchers investigated the use of picture schedules and video schedules to facilitate independent transitions in high school students with severe autism. All four participants in this study exhibited undesirable behavior during transition times.

Teachers set up picture schedules and video schedules for transition times throughout the day. Picture schedules were set up by:

  1. Having the student model the steps that needed to happen during transition
  2. Taking pictures of each step
  3. Laminating the pictures
  4. Putting the pictures in sequential order
  5. Storing the picture schedules in a central location

Teachers also set up video schedules for the students by:

  1. Having the student model the steps that needed to happen during transition and videotaping each step
  2. Editing out any undesirable behavior so the transition in the video is as desired
  3. Making the videos available to watch on a centralized computer

All students increased independence during transition using the video or picture schedule.

How can parents and teachers decide which strategy to use?  Students who look away frequently or have difficulty with sustained attention may be better suited to use picture schedules. Those who enjoy watching films and can sustain attention may benefit more from video schedules.

Video schedules do have some obvious limitations. They may be more difficult to produce and less transferable to different settings than picture schedules. Either option, however, offers a great visual strategy for increasing independence and desirable behaviors in individuals with autism.


Cihak, David F. (2011). Comparing pictorial and video modeling activity schedules during transitions for students with autism spectrum disorders. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders 5(1) 433-441.

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