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The Scheduling Tool that Changed My Family’s Life


The pediatric mental health counselor shuffled a few papers, “Ah, yes, here it is,” he said to me pushing a simple document in my direction.

I had been in the Emergency Room all day with my explosive five-year-old. As he grows older, he grows stronger. I am a small person and am beginning to feel vulnerable during his rages. His explosive behavior negatively impacted our family’s daily life. There had to be something we could do to help him, to help us.

I picked up the piece of paper quickly pushing down the sleeve of my hoodie to cover the bite marks that painted my thin arm. The paper was an outline. Simple. Detailed. A Schedule.

scheduling tool

Scheduling Tool for Kids on the Spectrum

Micro managing life was not something I ever wanted to do, not something upon which was never looked favorable in my office job before having kids. My body,  down to my bones, experienced revulsion at the site of this “tool”. I had to take his words, though. I had few other options at this point.

Brandon, the counselor, noticed my response because – not unlike my son – I have trouble keeping my emotions bottled up.

“I know it seems crazy, right?” he was so approachable I wanted to punch him.

“Such a simple document. I promise you, if your family uses this tool, if you’re able to make it happen, you will see major improvements in your son’s behavior,” Brandon’s genuine verbiage suited his profession. I could see success for him.

I breathed in deeply, looked over at my son’s small body curled in the hospital bed watching Ice Age on my iPhone, and let my body relax.

“Okay, okay. I can do this. I’ll make it happen,” I tucked the schedule in my quintessential Pacific Northwestern purple Patagonia backpack.

“Here, I made a few more copies for you. I know it can be tough finding time at home,” there he went again. Spot on. Exactly what I needed from him, a stranger. Could he read my mind? I let out a slight giggle.

“What is it?” he asked?

“Oh, nothing. I just appreciate you. Thanks.” I gathered our belongings, helped my son get on his shoes, and tucked the remaining discharge papers into the front pocket of my backpack.  My child’s biggest challenges continue to be his greatest gifts. I won’t let go of that fact. Never.

Tips for Using the Scheduling Tool

  1. Makes many copies
  2. Include your child in creating the schedule
  3. Don’t fret if it doesn’t work at first
  4. Go as specific as possible with clothing, snack, games, and so on. For example, look at our schedule below.

scheduling tool example

I hope you enjoyed this post.


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