Free Printable Behavior Charts, Reward Charts, and Visual Cues for Children with Autism

Updated on November 17, 2014

Children with Special Needs Require Visual Support

If you are a parent or teacher of a child with autism or other special needs, you know how important visual cues and behavior or reward charts are. Some tools for helping children with autism include:

  • Calendars: Many children with autism have difficulty coping with unstructured time, and timetables and charts help them "sequence" their day.
  • Behavior or ABC Charts: These help parents, teachers, and the child themselves make sense of the child's behavior. On the chart, you record the antecedent (what precedes) to the behavior, the behavior itself, and the consequences. Behavior charts help with determining the triggers and coping strategies for behaviors associated with autism spectrum disorders.
  • Visual Supports: People on the autism spectrum usually find it easier to process information visually. Pictures and symbols can be used to help make timetables and behavior charts easier to understand. Visual supports can also help illustrate social stories, which children with autism can use to help explain other people's behavior and a develop a framework for their own interactions.

Free Tools for Helping Kids with Autism

The problem is that many of these tools come in expensive kits. I am the mother of a wonderful seven-year-old boy who was first diagnosed at 12 months. Our therapists recommended behavior charts, award charts, picture exchange communication systems (PECS), and other visual cues.

At the time, we were a broke military family, living on a single income in one of the most expensive cities in the United States. Needless to say, we didn't have the money for the expensive tools made for coping with autism. We could not even afford the starter kit. So, I started to make some myself based on the ones for sale. At first, they were awful, but eventually they improved as I learned what I wanted and which techniques were right for our family. I use clear packaging tape to laminate the charts and rolled-up Scotch tape to attach the cues yet keep them movable.

What a difference the visual cues make! Try out some of these free print-outs. Most can be modified to your liking or you could even use them to inspire you to create your own. Finding the right system requires experimentation. Some families do great with sticker charts, others prefer with poker chips or reward systems. When raising a child with autism, it's important to maintain consistency. Still, If after a few weeks, you find yourself having difficulty using or even remembering to use a particular system, it may be time to look into a different one.

All the images on this page are my own work unless otherwise noted. Please ask permission before re-using on other websites and attribute images properly. No permission will be granted for derivative works for sale.

Higher-quality print-outs of these images can be found here.

Print-Out Goal Charts for Children with Special Needs

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Bubbles goals chart.Stars goals chart.Pastel butterflies blank goals chart template.Planets goals chart.Sunny day goals chart.Puzzle pieces goals chart.Paw prints goals chart.Purple swirls goals chart.Shapes goals chart.Girly purple goals chart.Pretty goals chart for girls.Pink and black butterfly goals chart.Train-themed goals chart.Pirate goals chart.Valentine's Day goals chart.
Bubbles goals chart.
Bubbles goals chart.
Stars goals chart.
Stars goals chart.
Pastel butterflies blank goals chart template.
Pastel butterflies blank goals chart template.
Planets goals chart.
Planets goals chart.
Sunny day goals chart.
Sunny day goals chart.
Puzzle pieces goals chart.
Puzzle pieces goals chart.
Paw prints goals chart.
Paw prints goals chart.
Purple swirls goals chart.
Purple swirls goals chart.
Shapes goals chart.
Shapes goals chart.
Girly purple goals chart.
Girly purple goals chart.
Pretty goals chart for girls.
Pretty goals chart for girls.
Pink and black butterfly goals chart.
Pink and black butterfly goals chart.
Train-themed goals chart.
Train-themed goals chart.
Pirate goals chart.
Pirate goals chart.
Valentine's Day goals chart.
Valentine's Day goals chart.

"I Can Do It!" Behavior Charts

Candy-themed "I Can Do It!" behavior chart.
Candy-themed "I Can Do It!" behavior chart.
Cookie-themed "I Can Do It!" Behavior Chart
Cookie-themed "I Can Do It!" Behavior Chart

Christmas-Themed Goals Charts

Christmas-themed "I Can Do It!" behavior chart, free print-out.
Christmas-themed "I Can Do It!" behavior chart, free print-out.
Free print-out holiday behavior chart.
Free print-out holiday behavior chart.

Full-Color Goal Charts

These weekly goal charts are fully colored, which may work better for some children. Be warned though, the colored backgrounds will use a lot of printer ink!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Free space-themed behavior chart. I took this photo through my telescope!Free print-out behavior chart with pink flowers.Train-themed behavior chart made with clip art.Halloween behavior chart.This free print-out frosty behavior chart was created in Photoshop.
Free space-themed behavior chart. I took this photo through my telescope!
Free space-themed behavior chart. I took this photo through my telescope!
Free print-out behavior chart with pink flowers.
Free print-out behavior chart with pink flowers.
Train-themed behavior chart made with clip art.
Train-themed behavior chart made with clip art.
Halloween behavior chart.
Halloween behavior chart.
This free print-out frosty behavior chart was created in Photoshop.
This free print-out frosty behavior chart was created in Photoshop.

Free Visual Cue Symbols

Visual cues, also called visual support, and are used by teachers and therapists because most kids with autism are visual thinkers. Many children respond better to visual information rather than written symbols. Most experts strongly recommend that a visual support system be implemented at home and at school.

These symbols can be cut out and used as visual cues for behavior charts and calendars. These visual cues are fun for all kids. You can affix velcro strips to the symbols and the spaces on the behavior charts, or you can just use a rolled up piece of tape. If you need some specific visual cues that aren't here, it's easy to make your own! Find images online or draw your own.

"Getting dressed" visual cues.
"Getting dressed" visual cues.
Food visual cues.
Food visual cues.
Home visual cues.
Home visual cues.
Christmas visual cues.
Christmas visual cues.
Home visual cues.
Home visual cues.
Technology visual cues.
Technology visual cues.
"How I feel" visual cues.
"How I feel" visual cues.
Halloween visual cues.
Halloween visual cues.
Chores visual cues.
Chores visual cues.

Reward Chart Print-Out

Star reward chart
Star reward chart

If your child has his or her eye on something special, like a toy or an outing, I recommend a discussion in which you offer to let them earn it one behavior at a time. Show them a reward chart and explain that when they demonstrate whatever behavior you are targeting a certain number of times then they win the prize.

The number of rewards on a behavior reward chart can vary. They can be used all day long, or for daily goals. You can also create a small book of different reward charts—one for each behavior— and require that the child fill up each chart over the course of a week.

In the chart above, each star represents a time they enact a certain behavior. Have them color in the trail of stars with crayons, glitter, or stickers, filling in each star as they get closer to their goals.

Chore Charts for Kids with Special Needs

Here are a few print-out chore charts. Chores are a wonderful tool to help kids learn responsibility and gain confidence. All kids—with or without disabilities—should have some type of household responsibility, whether it is simply putting their own clothes into the laundry basket or helping load the dishwasher.

Kids with autism and other disabilities benefit greatly from the use of chore charts. They offer visual support for verbal instructions and help maintain routine and structure. Chore charts are a great way to help your child predict their therapy routine for the week!

Implementing Chore, Reward, and Behavior Charts

Some parents find it difficult to use behavior charts, reward systems, and visual cues. The difficulty is not always in figuring out how to use them, but in finding themes to keep the child's interest or helping your child embrace their use. It's also difficult to find a good location for them, one that you'll remember.

Some kids will initially resist, particularly those with autism, Asperger syndrome, or oppositional defiant disorder. They may not want to give up control, or they may worry that they are being punished if the systems are not used correctly. Whatever type of system you use, please remember to always praise your child for positive behaviors!

Reward Bucks and Tickets

Steam train reward tickets.
Steam train reward tickets.

Low-Cost Reward Charts and Visual Cues

Sometimes the free items just don't meet your needs, so I have included some low-cost behavior charts below. My definition of low cost for these items is between $1 and $5 for laminated charts, between $5 and $40 for a book (depending upon quality), and between $20 and $90 for PECS. A good PECS system will cost a lot of money, and I recommend saving up for one.

Real PECS for Communication

All-in-One Kit for Autism Communication : 160 large color PHOTOS, 120 dots, 24 strips, 8 page dividers and binder - compatible with PECS (picture exchange communication system) & ABA
All-in-One Kit for Autism Communication : 160 large color PHOTOS, 120 dots, 24 strips, 8 page dividers and binder - compatible with PECS (picture exchange communication system) & ABA

If you can afford this kit, then I strongly recommend it above any type of of freebie or low-cost alternative. You may want to start with a smaller set (not the complete kit) to see if this type of system works for your family. It's a bit more complex than just sticking pictures on calendars, and your child's therapist or special education teacher should be able to help you use it correctly.

Nothing else is as good as the original PECS kit.

 

Whether they are neurotypical or have autism!

Do you use free printables for children?

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Questions & Answers

    Know anywhere else for parents to find printables to help with behavior? - Please indicate whether free or low cost.

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      • profile image

        Donna 

        8 months ago

        looking for free charts

      • profile image

        Thalia Mead 

        17 months ago

        I need a star chart for school from Monday to Friday pls.

        Thanks Thalia

        0408281545

      • WriterJanis2 profile image

        WriterJanis2 

        6 years ago

        You've got great charts. These are wonderful even for kids without special needs. Blessed!

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        6 years ago

        Nice to stop by this excellent lens again. :)

      • FamilySolutions1 profile image

        FamilySolutions1 

        6 years ago

        Great lens! My son is officially potty trained but unofficially makes wet when he wants. Positive motivation works with him and I wanted to print one of your potty charts. All the links to your potty training charts don't work. You have so many other great options that I might just use one of them. Thanks!

      • hubcaps lm profile image

        Hubcaps.com 

        6 years ago from 5611 Kimball Court Chino, California 91710

        @sidther lm: thank you for all the free printables! Truly appreciated!

      • Gypzeerose profile image

        Rose Jones 

        6 years ago

        Thanks so much for this great lens about a difficult challenge. My son had aspbergers and I think we didn't handle it as well as possible. I think your suggestions would have helped a lot. I can see why you have learned to be so orderly - this kind of kid just hates chaos. You already had a blessed lens before I saw your mention of Raphaelo, then you got double blessed. I really like it when I see lensmasters (really people in general) reaching out to each other like this. I live in the SF Bay area - if you are ever around let me know and we will have a nice picnic in one of the Bay area parks!

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        6 years ago

        Amazing selection for families with a special needs and thank you for sharing these wonderful information! Terrific lens!

      • KReneeC profile image

        KReneeC 

        6 years ago

        What an absolutely wonderful lenS.

      • EpicFarms profile image

        EpicFarms 

        6 years ago

        I'm afraid I don't have any suggestions to add for freebies (I made up my own charts and things when my daughter was little :o) This is a TERRIFIC resource for parents, however, and I know I could have used it back in the day. Very nicely done!

      • Spiderlily321 profile image

        Spiderlily321 

        6 years ago

        Great lens with so much really good information and I love the printables! I am adding you to my favorite featured lenses for a lens that I am working on. My son is epileptic (I have a lens about it) and am currently working on creating a type of virtual circle of support for parents with special needs. Thank you so much for sharing the wonderful info!

      • AlexiaLynn profile image

        AlexiaLynn 

        6 years ago

        Great lens! I love it! I actually stumbled upon some charts at the Mighty Dollar. I would check at any dollar store though. I have even found some charts at thrift stores from schools that donate them

      • profile image

        Edwinrocks 

        6 years ago

        great lense with great information

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        6 years ago

        My oldest daughter is autistic. Thanks for this lens!

      • JEMArtistry profile image

        JEMArtistry 

        6 years ago

        These charts are great too. I'm adding a lnik to this lens too! :)

      • sousababy profile image

        sousababy 

        6 years ago

        Sweet of you to feature my work sidther . . Happy St. Patrick's Day to you, Hubbie and Cutie! Hope you are all doing well and enjoying the day, Rose

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        6 years ago

        What a great resource for families with a special needs child. And how kind of you to share it. Thank you for creating this lens!

      • profile image

        bryonetter 

        6 years ago

        I "liked "your Lens -but my printer doesn't!!! i just ran out of paper...

        Please help me and like my lens too... thx

        http://www.squidoo.com/jarir-nakouzi-and-autism

      • mrstwowheeljunkie profile image

        mrstwowheeljunkie 

        6 years ago

        Great Lens! Thanks, will definitely be using some of these!

      • TTMall profile image

        TTMall 

        6 years ago

        very interesting lens!

      • LampsPest profile image

        LampsPest 

        6 years ago

        Great Lens with great resources!

        Thanks

      • greenmind profile image

        GreenMind Guides 

        6 years ago from USA

        Teachers who devote themselves to helping these people are saints. I have had Asperger syndrome students and they are amazing and intense to work with.

      • profile image

        remintsa 

        6 years ago

        Great lens!

      • normandes profile image

        normandes 

        6 years ago

        Thanks for the freebies :)

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        6 years ago

        Free Printable Potty Training Pecs, boards, charts, etc. as well as PECs for hippotherapy, etc. More added weekly. www.wordsofhisheart.wordpress.com

      • jadehorseshoe profile image

        jadehorseshoe 

        6 years ago

        Another IMPORTANT Lens!

      • mihgasper profile image

        Miha Gasper 

        6 years ago from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU

        Amazing selection. It looks very helpful. Thank you very much!

      • Oracle Post profile image

        Oracle Post 

        6 years ago

        A motivational lens created with a big heart. Thanks for sharing this lens!

      • Heather Shockney profile image

        Heather Shockney 

        6 years ago from PA

        Thanks for sharing these great resources.

      • maurissam profile image

        Chocolate Pickney 

        6 years ago from Jamaica

        Thank you very much for this lens. Recently my 3 yrs daughter was diagnosed with autism. I am now just trying to learn about it.

      • profile image

        CTsHeart 

        6 years ago

        My son has autism too. Thank you for the information!

      • Fcuk Hub profile image

        Fcuk Hub 

        6 years ago

        I always like reading lens like this :)

      • Srena44 profile image

        Srena44 

        6 years ago

        great work

      • LizMac60 profile image

        Liz Mackay 

        6 years ago from United Kingdom

        Great resource. Blessed.

      • stephenteacher profile image

        Stephen Carr 

        6 years ago from Corona, CA

        Terrific lens. Nicely done!

      • profile image

        lynqiu 

        6 years ago

        Love it! Whether Kids with autism or not, they all need visual things to help learning.

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        7 years ago

        Visual aids are great for kids having autism and good for other kids also. Visual figures and images make them understand well. A homemade chart must just be the one people might be looking for.

      • profile image

        JoshK47 

        7 years ago

        Wonderful stuff here! Keep up your amazing work!

      • mountainstevo profile image

        mountainstevo 

        7 years ago

        You offer great info for parents with children with autism - keep up the great work :)

      • profile image

        Pway21 

        7 years ago

        GREAT LENS stay strong i have a few friends with kids with autism and i know how tough it is and you are very strong for taking care of your kid with the father is fighting for freedom

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        7 years ago

        You are a super star!!! Excellence in action my dear!

      • profile image

        jessicahoward 

        7 years ago

        Wow..This is really a very fantastic lens......... It provides such a great resource for Free Printable Behaviour Charts and Rewards..... Well done!....... I'm sure lots of people will appreciate your hard work. Blessed........Thank you so much for sharing ........:)

      • Virginia Allain profile image

        Virginia Allain 

        7 years ago from Central Florida

        Here's another blessing for this awesome resource. Parents of all children would find these useful.

        Featured on You've Been Blessed.

      • darciefrench lm profile image

        darciefrench lm 

        7 years ago

        You are an unlimited resource for families with ASD - I am always impressed. Blessings to you and yours.

      • LizMac60 profile image

        Liz Mackay 

        7 years ago from United Kingdom

        I'm sure lots of people will appreciate your hard work. Blessed.

      • A RovingReporter profile image

        A RovingReporter 

        7 years ago

        Great lens. Great service.

      • phoenix arizona f profile image

        phoenix arizona f 

        7 years ago

        Great lens.

      • sidther lm profile imageAUTHOR

        sidther lm 

        7 years ago

        @TeacherRenee: I explored the site and I love it! I have added it to my "Free Printable Worksheets" lens, thank you so much for sharing it!

      • TeacherRenee profile image

        TeacherRenee 

        7 years ago

        Sorry - I was leaving a general comment and just realized you were also asking for other sites with free printables. :) Have you seen www.schoolsparks.com/kindergarten-worksheets? I created that website as a totally free resource of information for parents of school-aged children and I have hundreds of free printable worksheets.

      • TeacherRenee profile image

        TeacherRenee 

        7 years ago

        This is a fantastic lens! I am a retired kindergarten teacher who worked with children with learning disabilities from time to time, and I wish I had this list of resources when I was in the classroom. Fantastic!

      • OhMe profile image

        Nancy Tate Hellams 

        7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

        This is such a great resource for Free Printable Behavior Charts and Rewards. Well done!

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        7 years ago

        I don't know of any sources for this sort of material, but this is really a fantastic page. I'd think all parents and grandparents like me who live in multi-generational homes could find a lot to use here. You've really got a lot of useful stuff here. Bookmarked, and thumbs up.

      • sousababy profile image

        sousababy 

        7 years ago

        Love the additions and it is sooo generous of you to offer to make customized ones too. Thank you so much (I believe these would be helpful for any family). Much love, Rose

      • ColorPetGifts profile image

        ColorPetGifts 

        7 years ago

        You are one amazing mom - 'nuff said -:)

      • sousababy profile image

        sousababy 

        7 years ago

        I know in the hospitals (in Toronto, Canada) we have many free resources. I shall look them up when I can at work and see if I can add to your fine list. It's so helpful to every parent (and some adults) to have these rewards given to them.

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