For children, especially for children with deaf-blindness, routines provide consistent, repeated experiences that allow them to anticipate what is about to happen, communicate in a structured and familiar setting, and actively participate to the greatest extent they can.
According to Millie Smith, a former teacher at the Texas School for the Blind- “A routine is an instructional strategy developed to increase the level of participation in activities for students who require consistency and repetition in order to learn.” Educators use routines to build anticipation and memory and to teach specific skills used in functional daily activities.
A routine should have a clear signal to the student that the activity is starting. The steps of the activity should always occur in the same order, be cued in a consistent way, and take place in the same place. When the routine ends, there must be a clear signal that the activity is finished.
The following is a sample routine from the TSBVI School Based Therapy Training Module on Routines (http://www.tsbvi.edu/therapy/routines.htm)
A sample meal routine
Mealtime is a good activity to develop into a routine because it usually happens three times a day. Practice opportunities are frequent. The team’s plan might look something like this.
- Get spoon from calendar box to begin activity.
- Target skill: Tactual exploration of objects in calendar to recognize spoon.
- Person responsible: VI teacher
- Strategy: VI teacher demonstrates technique to T.A. who will implement instruction.
- Take spoon to eating area.
- Target skill: Maintain grasp, intentional release.
- Person responsible: O.T.
- Strategy: O.T. demonstrates technique to T.A. who will implement instruction.
- Give spoon to adult to request meat.
- Target skill: Use object to request.
- Person responsible: S.L.P.
- Strategy: S.L.P. demonstrates technique to T.A. who will implement instruction.
- Target skill: Manipulate spoon for scooping.
- Person responsible: O.T.
- Strategy: O.T. provides adaptive equipment and demonstrates technique to T.A. who will implement instruction.
- Put spoon in washtub at dish window to end activity.
- Target skill: Maintain grasp, intentional placement.
- Person responsible: O.T. and VI teacher
- Strategy: O.T. demonstrates technique to T.A. who will implement instruction. VI teacher provides visual enhancement of target.
Learn more about routines
Sensory Learning Kit Guidebook (Millie Smith, M.Ed. TVI). Available at the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) The guidebook has wonderful articles outlining the importance of routines, ideas for creating routines and forms to help develop routines. The kit also includes a book of routines to accompany the materials in the kit. https://shop.aph.org/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product_Sensory%20Learning%20Kit%20(SLK)%20Video,%20DVD_1-30022-DVDP_10001_11051
Routine Based Learning Videos (Washington Sensory Disabilities Services)
These 3 videos demonstrate the use of routines in school and home settings.
Making Changes in Routines (California Deaf-Blind Project)
This short article gives ideas for ways to let children know there will be a change in a routine.
Getting Started with Routines (Texas Deaf-Blind Project) This short article gives a step-by-step guide for setting up routines.
Make it Routine (Robbie Blaha and Kate Moss, TSBVI)
This article describes the importance of routines for babies and children who are deafblind and gives suggestions for selecting activities that can be made into routines http://www.tsbvi.edu/seehear/archive/routine.html
David Wiley from the Texas Deafblind Project gives a wonderful description of the importance of using activity routines with persons who are deaf-blind http://library.tsbvi.edu/Play/246