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Can you help me teach my Aspergers child organizational skills?

RE: "Can you help me teach my Aspergers child organizational skills?"

For children and teens with Aspergers (high-functioning autism), organizational skills are a mystery. We all need strong organizational skills. Teaching these skills starts very young and continues through childhood as they increase in difficulty. Kids with Aspergers lack these natural skills and must be taught these skills if they desire to be productive adults.

When you think about teaching these young people organizational skills, you automatically think of lists, schedules and daily planners. While these are an important part of organizational skills, they are only a tip of the iceberg. Organizational skills are also known as executive functions. The executive functions affect abstract thinking, memory, task oriented goal creation, and mental adaptation in a wide range of situations.

Beginning at a very young age, we should teach our "special needs" kids organization skills that are age-appropriate (e.g., paying attention, understanding time, cooperation, memory work, basic research, basic planning, etc.). As our kids get older, these executive functions become more complex as they learn to manage projects, set goals, remember the small details, and organize and plan assignments.

To begin teaching your child with Aspergers organizational skills, you should first assess his weaknesses. In the meantime, you can help your child by working on time management and organization. These are two of the most important skills needed for success in school and in life. 

 Here are some suggestions that may help:

Time management—

• Breaking assignments down into manageable pieces is a very practical skill to teach. For example, if your child has to read a book and write a report, the manageable pieces would be to locate the desired book, read the book, write down the basic book report information, and summarize the book in writing. At the same time, you will teach her to assign a period of time for each piece so she can learn how to plan her assignments.

• Speaking of planning and timing assignments, planning is essential to time management. Every opportunity should be used to encourage planning. If you are going on an outing, have your child plan what he expects to happen during that outing. For example, if you are going to the zoo, have him make a list of what exhibit he wants to visit first, second, third, and so on.

• Visual timers help kids see how much time is left, which will do a greater job at teaching the concept of time in minutes or hours. These timers usually have a number display as well as a red line that gets smaller as time runs out.

Organization—

• Desktop organization and de-cluttering should take place regularly. When your child’s workspace becomes disorganized, she will lose her ability to concentrate on the task at hand. Set a time for her to put things away, make notes in her planner, and clean up her workspace.

• Encourage your child to make written lists. Having a list will help him stay on task. It will also help his memory skills.

• Find a simple daily planner or agenda book and have him write down everything each day. Homework assignments, favorite television shows - anything that is important to him - can go in his daily planner.

• Visual schedules, either written or picture schedules, are a valuable tool for your Aspergers child. Since she has an autism spectrum disorder, she prefers a routine. Having a visual schedule to refer to will make her more aware of her routine and help her cope with changes when they occur.

Executive functions are complex. These are just a few tips to get you started. Once your child has gained strength in these basic organizational areas, he or she will be able to function better at school and at home.

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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm definitely reading this article! Years of consistency has helped my child with organization skills, but many things, are still a work im progress.

Anonymous said...

Very good info, my 15 year old has organizational skill issues. I will print and have him read this too. Hopefully we can work together to put some of these points to work for him.

Anonymous said...

We are constantly readjusting the skills needed as our son gets older and the needs change. Now in Middle School he has responsiblities that he has to handle himself. We just help him find the best way to be organized. Even if that means sitting down with him and his back pack every few weeks to help organize the contents into his folders. It takes time.

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Online Parent Coaching for Parents of Asperger's Children

If you’re the parent of a child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism, you know it can be a struggle from time to time. Your child may be experiencing: obsessive routines; problems coping in social situations; intense tantrums and meltdowns; over-sensitivity to sounds, tastes, smells and sights; preoccupation with one subject of interest; and being overwhelmed by even the smallest of changes.

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Parents, teachers, and the general public have a lot of misconceptions of Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism. Many myths abound, and the lack of knowledge is both disturbing and harmful to kids and teens who struggle with the disorder.

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