Time-Management Problems in Asperger's and HFA Teens

“I have a 17 year old daughter with aspergers. She is a good student (high functioning) now that she is doing her high school online through a public charter school. However, she has no concept of time so she is often cramming at the last minute to finish her assignments. How can I help her manage her time better so that she can do her work without stressing out about it?”

While some teenagers are just natural procrastinators, others, like your daughter, have a genuine problem understanding the concept of time, which is a common trait of Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA).

Online schooling is a great option for AS and HFA adolescents. Removing the classroom distraction will do wonders for your daughter's thought processes. The lessening of sensory over-stimulation, the one-on-one instruction, and no bullies are definite advantages.

However, as a side note, you may want to consider social skills group classes and other social outlets to prevent total isolation. Clubs and community groups that are geared towards her special interests will provide much needed social skills practice in a comfortable environment.

Organization and time-management are weak areas for AS and HFA teens. Since these young people are prone to struggle with depression and anxiety, the addition of poor organizational skills can cause real problems. Organizational skills are crucial for young people. Teachers and college professors expect students to contribute acceptable work in a timely manner. Finding solutions that work now will lead to positive changes and less anxiety in the future.

Here are a few ideas to help your daughter manage her time better:
  • Create a routine. As a teenager on the autism spectrum, your daughter probably craves routine and order. A daily routine will set her on the right path. She may need guidance to develop a routine. Work with her to create a smooth flow to her day.
  • Design an ordered workspace. A designated place for everything, comfortable seating, quiet surroundings, and a calming decor will help reduce distractions. 
  • Use visual schedules. Use lists and reminders to keep your daughter moving along. Encourage her to keep a daily, weekly, and monthly calendar. To do lists, written schedules, and assignment lists will give her the structure she needs to begin organizing her life. 
  • Use visual timers. These timers have a colored line that gets smaller as the time passes, giving your daughter a true visual image of running out of time. Each daily task and/or school subject can be timed with the visual timer.

High school can be very overwhelming for AS and HFA teens. With your guidance and a plan of organization, your daughter is sure to finish high school and move on to college ventures with confidence and control.

More resources for parents of children and teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism:

==> Preventing Meltdowns and Tantrums in Asperger's and HFA Children

==> Discipline for Defiant Asperger's and HFA Teens

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and HFA: How to Promote Self-Reliance

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