Organizational Strategies for Your Child with Autism

skills Jun 25, 2019

First of all, why is getting organized important? Organization is an often-reported issue from individuals on the autism spectrum and their parents and families. Being organized allows our children to be prepared, build independence, and lessens stress and anxiety for them (and all of us.) In this post, I’ll share ways to get your child with autism more organized and to encourage creative ways to get this done.

 

“I’m not messy, I’m just creatively organized.”  I found this quote online – I wish I could locate its author – and I couldn’t but help latching onto it. It reminds me of something one of my students with autism once said about his backpack. While looking inside, I saw a zone of no return for all pencils, worksheets, and permission slips. And what he also saw was a zone of no return most of the time, while other times, he saw a system of his own. This post focuses on ways in which we can help our students and children on the autism spectrum get (and stay) organized.

 

BUILD AND USE STRUCTURE

There’s a reason why structure is so frequently discussed in the autism field … because it works! Visual supports are considered an evidence-based practice in ASD. Using structure helps you out in terms of visually seeing the plan and tracking how things are staying organized.

Quick Ways to Use Structure

  • Visual supports

    • Checklists

    • Chore boards

    • Order of tasks

  • Make a tracking sheet

    • Turn in HW

    • Grades

    • Amount of water to drink each day

  • Keep things in the same spots

    • Backpack

  • Use color coding

    • Teachers are onto something with this! I often see them use it in their classrooms to stay organized.

 

AT HOME

I know getting organized at home is always a challenge. I mean, this guide is called getting organized, but really it should be called staying organized … amirite?!

But what you can do at home that stays consistent are morning and night routines. You may already have one – children on the autism spectrum love routines – so you can fine tune it to include more tasks to get organized. Also, as these routines get more consistent, your child will become more independent in completing these tasks, therefore relying less on you as they get older.

What to incorporate in these routines?

Example of a morning routine: Step by step process of getting up, eating breakfast, brushing teeth and other hygiene tasks, and getting dressed

Limit technology use or distractors unless they are essential to completing these!

 

AT SCHOOL

At school, your child has to keep track of their backpack, their locker (if they have one), any places they keep things, grades, papers between home and school, homework, and any classwork. Phew! That’s a lot! I can see why things get lost – they’ve got a lot to keep track of! Buuut, there’s no reason why they, you, and their teachers shouldn’t keep trying. It’s easy to feel discouraged, especially after you’ve tried so many things, but there’s gotta be something that works for your child.

How you can help your child stay organized at school

  • Grade tracking sheets

  • Behavior tracking sheets

  • Parent and teacher communication folder or binder

  • Consistent communication between you and your child’s teachers

  • Use the class website and google classroom – attach to your family calendar

 

TECHNOLOGY

Technology is one of my favorite tools to get and stay organized. Here are some apps you can use to get organized. Make sure they’re available on your device! Also, the cloud is such a great invention and can do wonders. No more lost work! AND you can create a shared drive with your child to track homework and the like.

That app life:

  • Timer

  • Calendar (I like to use Google calendar)

  • Trello (a project management app that you can use across computer & phone)

  • Evernote (checklists)

  • Notes (checklists on apple phones)

  • Google drive (all HW on the cloud!)

 

LONG-TERM OUTCOMES

If you’re not entirely sold yet on the helpful effects of getting organized – stay with me here – you will likely see some beneficial long-term effects liiiike… you feeling more relaxed – yes you. But also your child.

You can do more things! Things that need more of your focus to get done, instead of spending so much time looking for paperwork/homework/the right file/ the right book.

Also. Remember that your organization plan can change over time – you have the power to do that if things need to be adjusted.

 

Now onto you…

What are some ways you can get more organized?

Who can help you with this? (I’d encourage you to ask for help – they may know some tracks too)

Set up a plan and try things out!

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