What it is: A strategy for helping children cope with unexpected schedule changes
Who it’s for: Parents or teachers who have kids that resist changes in routine
What you’ll need: A dye cut or other cutout of a person, a laminator, a magnet or tape
Students with Autism can have a difficult time with changes in schedule and routine. So can students with ADHD who rely on predictability to feel safe. Though you will try to keep your schedule as predictable as possible, changes are going to happen. I came up with an easy way to cushion a necessary change that has helped my kids: a little magnetized cutout that I call Charlie Changer. Go to your workroom and use a dye cut in the shape of a person, laminate it, and glue a magnet to the back of it. Introduce Charlie Changer to the class and let them know that sometimes changes happen, and that’s OK. Whenever a change does happen, Charlie will be there for it. When the time comes, say something like, “We’re not going to have time for Science today, let’s wake up Charlie” and they all say, “Wake up Charlie!” Pull Science off of the daily schedule and put Charlie in it’s place or next to whatever activity is replacing it. This strategy provides predictability in the midst of change.
This can be used at home too! Just pull out Charlie whenever an unexpected change is about to occur.
My initial concern with the Charlie Changer idea was that kids who are really adverse to change would grow to hate Charlie, but that hasn’t happened. What did happen was, anytime a change occurred, the students beckoned for him. I also wrote a big Ch on his chest as a way to reinforce phonemic awareness of the “ch” sound.
I also made a female alternative called Chelsea Changer. The kids love them both.
(You could use an X-Acto Knife to cut around the corners so it doesn’t look as sloppy as mine does. That’d definitely be the smarter thing to do.)
I hope this helps you!