The Inclusive Church

Visual Schedules Part 2: Pill Box & Reward Tool

Today’s post is the second part of a short series spotlighting clever uses for visual schedules in the church setting.  In yesterday’s post, we showed how one special needs ministry utilizes individual visual schedules for VBS rotations.  Today, we’ll show one of the most fun special needs tools I’ve ever run across.

This past January we hosted a special needs networking breakfast in Houston.  Most of us had never met before but talked as if we’d known each other for years (and for almost two hours).  In the middle of our breakfast, one of the church leaders delicately interrupted conversation to say she had an idea and “ministry win” that she wanted to share.  She then reached into her purse, and out popped a pill box!

The pill box quickly became the center of our conversation and this idea has since been shared with other special needs champions.  I absolutely love the pill box visual schedule.  Perhaps the best part of the story is the fact a teen volunteer was the creative mind behind this ingenius invention.  The ministry leader who came to our Houston breakfast, Arielle Lewis, provides the background and story for the pill box below.

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Faithbridge has been blessed with many volunteers wanting to invest in our church’s special needs ministry.  It comes as no surprise that one of our volunteers, a faithful serving high-school student, Naomi, has put much time and effort into working alongside a beautiful child with autism.  As soon as we welcomed our new ministry participant, Naomi was eager to brainstorm about ways we could help this child experience success.  Providing a defined space, using a picture schedule, and working with other ministry leaders to truly include the child with her peers, have all been strategies implemented by Naomi.  So when Naomi came to me and said she had an idea for communication reinforcement I was excited.  Naomi proposed that we use a jumbo 7-compartment pill box (available from pharmacies) as a visual schedule and reward tool for this student.

How we created the pill box schedule & reward tool:

Step 1 Found illustrations for each activity/setting the child participates in
Step 2 Created one-word descriptions & graphics to fit pill box lids
Step 3 Printed activity description & graphic small enough for each lid
Step 4 Laminated the printed graphics for durability
Step 5 Affixed the laminated printouts with tape or glue to lids
Step 6 Obtained parent advisement for a reward (edible treat)
Step 7 Placed 1 or 2 edible treats in each pill box compartment

As you might guess, the pill box schedule was a huge hit with our ministry participant.  The tool gave our student something to look forward to after she completed an activity.  And Naomi and other ministry helpers benefitted by having something positive to talk about when reminding our sweet friend to make good communication choices.

For our lid graphics, we utilized images from Powerpoint and an internet search site.  You could also print small versions of actual pictures of your church space or activities.  For children who cannot have edible treats, small toys such as Squinkies could also work for a reward.  ~Arielle Lewis

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Arielle Lewis is the Special Needs Coordinator for All God’s Children of Faithbridge Church in Spring, Texas.  Prior to coming on staff at Faithbridge in 2011, Arielle served as a volunteer in the ministry and taught special education in the Spring Independent School District.  Arielle is pictured (left) with special needs ministry volunteer, Naomi.  

This coming fall Naomi will be entering Sam Houston State University where she plans to major in agriculture while pursuing certification in special education.

[Naomi, we look forward to hearing more great ideas from you.  And I assuredly speak for all readers in saying that we can’t wait to see how God is going to grow you as a ministry leader.  Please keep in touch with us here on The Inclusive Church Blog! ~ AFL]

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