How to Teach the Calendar to Autistic Children

Written by mary johnson-gerard, ph.d.
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How to Teach the Calendar to Autistic Children
Teaching children with autism about the calendar requires using many visuals. (calendar 2007 image by Franc Podgor...¡ek from

Autistic children have a more difficult time learning and retaining typical day-to-day information than those without autism. Teaching the calendar to autistic children is a good way to introduce the days of the week, rote counting, number identification and teach parts of the daily schedule as well. The key to teaching children on the autism spectrum is to use visual supports. Including pictures to help them remember the label for something will help tremendously. Repetition is another element to helping autistic children retain information. The calendar is perfect for both of these strategies. It can be done daily to give the repetition needed and also have picture cues added to help retain labels.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 1 poster style classroom calendar
  • 1 picture to represent each day of the week
  • Removable numbers to represent each day of the month
  • Pointer
  • Envelope
  • Velcro

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  1. 1

    Place the poster-style calendar in a part of the room low enough for children to see easily.

  2. 2

    Hang an envelope next to the calendar to hold the days of the month numbers.

  3. 3

    Make small 2x2 inch pictures for each day of the week. Make something to represent an activity that occurs only on that day of the week. Attach these with Velcro next to each day of the week on the calendar. You may need to add steps to your daily schedule to make this work. Examples would be Monday-water plants; Tuesday-feed fish; Wednesday-wash windows; Thursday-deliver books to other rooms; and Friday-extra playground time. The purpose is that they learn the label for each day of the week by associating it with the activity for the day.

  4. 4

    Attach Velcro to the calendar numbers and calendar so the numbers can be put on and removed easily.

  1. 1

    Introduce the calendar at your morning meeting time in the classroom. Tell the class which month it is and show them the word with the pointer.

  2. 2

    Have a calendar helper come up and talk about the day of the week. Talk about the special activity for the day. The special activity for the day is a good way to earn fun jobs for your classroom as well. Practice saying all the days of the week in a row or sing a song related to it. Then repeat "Today is...." and point to it.

  3. 3

    The teacher finds the number to represent the date and the calendar helper puts a number on the calendar for each day of the month. The calendar helper can lead the group with the pointer, in counting how many days have passed. This helps the class learn rote counting and number identification.

  4. 4

    Repeat this each morning at your morning meeting time. It is important to do this every day so that the repetition will set in and the students will retain the information. Also, it will become fun for the class and they will look forward to being calendar helper and counting the days.

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