Taking the Work Out of Blood Work: A Parent's Guide

Visual Schedule

What is it?

A visual schedule is a display of what is going to happen throughout the day or within a task or activity. It is helpful during blood draws and other medical procedures to decrease anxiety and difficulty with transitions by more clearly letting your child know when certain activities will occur throughout the day or appointment. How do I teach it and use it?

Visual Schedule Example

What if challenging behaviors occur?

If challenging behaviors occur, continue to focus on the task and praise the parts of the procedure your child is completing. Instead of shifting attention to the challenging behavior, provide brief statements or a visual that tell your child what you would like for them to do (e.g., hold your arm out). Then, move to the next task when that task is complete. Provide any rewards that are shown on the visual schedule when they are supposed to occur. This is because the focus of the visual schedule is on completing the tasks, not on addressing challenging behaviors that happen during them.

If you think challenging behaviors may occur, introduce your child to the visual schedule before the visit and practice them during daily activities he or she enjoys. This way, your child will already understand the meaning of this tool and will trust its use when it is brought out during blood draws and medical procedures.

If challenging behaviors become more difficult to manage, it may be appropriate to consider behavioral consultation with a professional to address these behaviors directly.