How to Create Routines for Individuals with Autism: An Easy Way

How to Create Routines for Individuals with Autism: An Easy Way

Inside: It is normal to feel scared and anxious during times of change. Find out an easy way to help create a routine for individuals with autism and your family. 

Change….

Right now as I write this post, there are a lot of changes going on in the world with a global Pandemic.

This might mean that your child’s school is closed, daycare is closed, you are home from work, or you are trying to work from home.

There are a lot of changes going on and that can be scary and uncertain.

What does this mean for Children and Teenagers with Autism?

Change may be extra hard for them to process and understand right now. Some individuals with autism really thrive on routines and when that routine is changed it can have a big impact on their everyday life.

I want to remind you to take time to show compassion, empathy, and understanding towards your kids right now as they are experiencing a lot of change in their daily routines as well as yours.

What can we do to help them through these changes?

Build a Routine Together

First, we need to figure out what type of routine will work for your family. Think about what type of structure works well for your child or children, but also keep in mind what works for you as the parent caring for your children.

This can seem overwhelming at first, but I am going to do my best to help make this transition a little easier for you.

Think about how you may want your day to flow together instead of thinking of it in time chunks. Are there parts to your day that you know need to get done such as eating times, sleeping times, getting ready for the day, or specific activities you would like to do with them?

List out the big activities that need to get done in the day.

Then from your list do you feel like it needs to stay in a specific order for your child to really thrive from a specific routine, or are they okay with flexibility and changing things if they need to?

I don’t want to give you a specific schedule/routine to follow because every family is different in what works for them.

For example, I do not like to have things scheduled out for me because I get upset if it doesn’t go as planned. Instead, I like to think about 2 or 3 things I know I would like to get done that day and work that into my schedule as a flow to my day.

Here are some examples of activities of how you can set a flow to your day without giving time constraints to the activities.

Flow to a day:

Wake up
Breakfast
Get Ready
Work Time (Reading, writing, math)
Free Play/Technology time
Outside Time if able or want to
Lunch
Quit Time or Rest or (reading or writing)
Life Skills Opportunities (help with meal prep, work on a specific skill the child would like to get better at)
Screen Time/Technology Time
Dinner
Games
Family Time
Get Ready for Bed
Bedtime

These are just examples of activities, you do NOT need to feel like you need to do EVERYTHING in a day.

Right now your children need you to be there for them and to feel loved. They need time to connect with you, play, eat, and sleep.

How do you build a routine together with your children?

One thing you can do is ask them what is something they would like to do today? Is there a specific game they would like to play, movie to watch, or skill they are wanting to learn?

Building a routine with your child may hopefully help them feel excited to do something they want to do and help with these new changes.

Because I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being told what I have to do all of the time. I like to have a say in what I want to do during the day and your children will most likely feel the same way.

Also, think about the times during the day when your child is in their best mood. Do they do better in the mornings, afternoons, or evenings? Take that time to find a way to really connect with your child. Try doing something fun whether it be playing a game together or a certain play activity that they enjoy.

Get your Free copy of Building a Home Routine Together Planning Guide!

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Visual Schedules

Another way to help with the transition and changes to a new routine can be by using visual schedules.

Visual Schedules can be actual pictures of the activities, a real-life object from the activity, or a written checklist of the order of events.

A visual schedule may be helpful to use when changing your routine so they have a better understanding of what may be expected of them. Especially if they were used to using a visual schedule at school. You may want to reach out to their teacher if you are able to see if they were using a visual schedule and see if they could help you create one for at home to make it similar to what they had at school.

Additional Free Visual Schedule Examples

Visual Schedules and Routine Charts by And Next Comes L
Self Care Visuals Schedules by Living Well with Autism
Home Visual Schedules for Morning and Night Time Routine by Natural Beach Living

Help them Meet their Sensory Needs

Some individuals with autism may need more help with getting their sensory needs met during the day, especially during times of change.

If you are able to check-in with their teacher or if they were receiving occupational therapy services, see if you can ask them what types of sensory activities they were doing with them and what worked well for your child.

Here are some additional resources to help you come up with different sensory activities ideas that you could do at home.

Calm Down Toolkit for Teens 

Making Sense of the Teen Years: A Sensory Processing Guide 

Making Sure your Needs are Met During the Day

Lastly, I want to make sure we think about how to help you meet your needs throughout the day as a parent.

Your daily routine and schedule has most likely changed as well and this may mean that you are feeling very overwhelmed, frustrated, scared, and anxious.

It is okay to have these feelings, I know I have been feeling this way.

We need to try to stay calm in front of our children during these times of unknowns to help them feel a little comfort during their day.

One strategy that has been helping me during this time is to think about what I have control over in my life.

  • I have control over how much I use social media or what I want to read on social media.
  • I have control over what activities and things I can do with my children during the day.
  • I have control over how I will react in certain situations.

Think about what you have control over in your life right now and try your best to focus on positives and gratitude right now.

Also, think about what things do you need during the day to help you feel calm and like yourself?

Do you need time to watch a show, read a book, take a bath, 5 minutes to yourself to collect your thoughts?

I know it can feel impossible to make time during the day for yourself, but as the parent, you are such a huge part of your child’s life right now and they need you to be there for them. You can’t be there for your child or children when you are so overwhelmed and tired.

Download your Free Cheat Sheet

Grab your Free Copy of the Building a Home Routine Together Planning Guide! In 5 minutes you can help set up a routine that works for your child with autism and your family to help make the day go smoother.

Enter your email in the form below to get your Free copy of the Building a Home Routine Together Planning Guide!

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How to Create Routines for Individuals with Autism: An Easy Way

How to Create Routines for Individuals with Autism: An Easy Way

Feel Successful and Confident Teaching Life Skills

Feel Successful and Confident Teaching Life Skills

Feel Confident and Successful Teaching Life Skills

Inside: Learn how to analyze your teaching session to reflect and make a plan for helping you create a meaningful and successful learning opportunity. 

*This post may contain affiliate links.

You set up the perfect learning session with a kiddo to work on teaching them life skills by having the materials all setup and ready, in a quiet environment, and the steps of the activity written out for them to follow. You model and show them what you want them to do and you are there to support them and guide them as they are learning this new activity. Then halfway through the session things start to take a turn for the worse. 

The individual is not focused, they can’t work on this skill anymore and they are just done. They get up and walk away or they start to throw the objects in front of them. They are overloaded and frustrated. 

You think to yourself, what did I do wrong? 

How can I teach them this skill if they won’t even work with me for longer than 5 minutes?

You think to yourself, I am such a failure.

What you Should Know About Teaching Life Skills

Every individual you work with and every teaching session is going to be different with a different outcome. Some sessions may go as planned and you feel like a rockstar, other times though it may be an epic fail and that is when you start to question your ability to teach life skills. 

Whether you are an occupational therapist, a teacher, or a parent we all have times when teaching a new skill will either go well or not so well. 

I am here to help you get back on your feet and feel a little bit more like a rockstar when it comes to teaching life skills even after a session that went horribly wrong. 

Because as an occupational therapist I have felt defeated and overwhelmed and lacked my own confidence when teaching a kiddo a new skill. 

Over the years I have realized that every teaching session and every individual I work with is going to be different based on so many factors. I wanted to create a way to help you feel more confident and successful when teaching life skills so I created a Free Problem Solving Checklist for you to use to reflect on your teaching sessions and help you make a plan for your next session. 

How to Problem Solve What is Going on When Teaching Life Skills

You are probably wondering what do I do after a teaching session doesn’t go well? The first thing I like to do is to remind myself “I am a good therapist.” My heart is in the right place and I am here trying to help them learn something new. 

Use positive words and phrases to talk about yourself, because if we start to get too down on ourselves, how can we best support the individuals we are working with?

The next question I like to ask myself is, “How can I make the session meaningful for the client I am working with?”

Motivation

The first area I want you to think about as you problem-solve a teaching session is Motivation. Is this life skill that I am teaching a goal of the client/individual? Do they understand why working on this skill is important to them?

If they are not motivated to work on this skill with you, is there a way that you can help motivate them or can you help them understand why this skill is important to work on? The answers to these questions will vary for each individual and this is when you get to put your creative juices together to help figure out how to motivate them or how to make this goal meaningful to them. 

Other areas to think about with motivation are is the individual having a hard day? Are they feeling sick or are there other outside factors going on that are affecting them right now?

We are all entitled to having bad or off days and sometimes it can be hard when those days happen to be the days we are working with them. 

If this is the case and they are just having an off day, is there a way that you can make the session fun for them? Could you change up the teaching session and create a positive experience for them? Because sometimes it isn’t always about teaching the specific skill as it is just helping form a positive relationship with the individual to help them gain your trust.  

Motor Skills Involved

The next area to think about and analyze about a session are the specific physical motor skills involved to complete the life skill. Do they have the strength, endurance, fine motor skills, etc to complete the steps of the skill you are working on? If they don’t have the motor skills to complete a specific step how can you help them either learn those motor skills or is there a way to accommodate or change that step to be completed in a way that they can be successful with that step?

Environmental Set-Up

The next area to think about is the materials you are using to teach the skill and the environment you are teaching in. Can they use and access all of the materials that are needed to complete the skill? Are they distracted in this environment? Do they need any other additional supports? 

Ask yourself these questions and really take some time to figure out if there would be a better set up for teaching the skill you are working on. 

Teaching the Skill

Think about how you taught the skill to the individual, did they understand what was expected of them? Did they have enough time to process each step or were they distracted? Analyzing how you actually taught the skill can take some time to get used to and may take some time at first. Think about how you spoke to the individual, how you reacted when they did something, or think about how they reacted when you did something? Taking time to reflect on how the actual teaching session went with how you reacted and the individual reacted can help you better understand how to work on that skill next time. If they responded well to something, try doing more of that next session or if something didn’t go well think about how you could improve upon that for the next session. 

Actions or Emotions

Each individual will have different reactions and emotions towards us when we are working with them. Things to keep in mind and consider when working with someone is do they have any fear or anxiety with learning this skill? Do they have a hard time keeping their attention or are they distracted easily? 

If you feel overwhelmed with trying to understand how the individual may be feeling, please seek out additional support with medical advice or professional services to better help and assist the individual you are working with. 

Sensory

The last area to think about when teaching life skills could be sensory related. When you were teaching them were they upset by smells, lights, movements, sounds, or taste? We are constantly surrounded by sensory information in our day to day life and each individual will respond differently to sensory input and we just need to be aware that this may also affect how they learn when teaching them life skills.

What to do: Reflection and Making a Plan

Now that I have given you some ideas and tips on areas to analyze and reflect on after a teaching session, I want to help you feel successful with your next teaching session by helping you make a plan. 

By identifying some problem areas you can now feel better about the next session and create a clear action plan for the next session. To make it easy for you, I just want you to think about one problem area that you identified and think of one or multiple solutions to this problem area that you could change for next time. 

Another way to think about this is also by creating an if-then problem statement to help you. For example, If the client starts to get distracted then I will let them take a 5-minute physical activity break by doing a gross motor game with them. 

By creating a plan and being able to reflect on each teaching session, this will help you feel confident and successful when teaching life skills. 

Download your FREE Problem Solving Cheat Sheet for Teaching Life Skills

Use this cheat sheet to help you reflect on your teaching sessions, make a plan, and help you feel confident and successful when teaching life skills!

  1. Download the free cheat sheet. Join my newsletter and as a bonus, you’ll get the printable! Just enter your email in the box below to subscribe! 
  2. Print it out or use it on your computer to help you problem solve your next teaching session.
  3. Use it to make a plan for your next teaching session and help you feel confident and successful when teaching life skills!  

 

Subscribe to get the FREE Problem Solving Checklist for Teaching Daily Living Skills!

Save time reflecting and planning your next teaching session to help make your teaching session successful!

 

When you subscribe to our list you will get life skills teaching resources, tips, and updates to help teach teens with autism.

Tips for Teaching Money Management to Teens with Autism

Tips for Teaching Money Management to Teens with Autism

Subscribe to get the FREE Daily Living Skills Checklist and Planning Guide!

Save time by having the life skills listed out for you! In 5 minutes you can have a simple plan to help your teen with autism learn a specific life skill to help them reach their highest potential!

 



When you subscribe to our list you will get simple to follow life skills resources, tips, and updates to help teens with autism.

*Affiliate Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link. 

Why are Teaching Money Management Skills so Important for Teens with Autism?

Personally, I think money management skills are vital to learn if you want to help your teen become more independent as they grow up. I do want to say though, that there is no magic timeline as to when your teen or an adult with autism may learn all of these money management skills. It will come over time and each person is unique to when they may learn various skills. I just want to make sure to point out the importance of learning these skills to help increase their independence. I am not an expert on money management skills, but I am doing the best I can to learn more about these skills in order to help my brother increase his independence. I have put together resources and tips that I have learned while reseraching this topic.

A recent study, “Financial Capabilities Among Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder,” was conducted through the University of Missouri and was intended to shed light on exactly this issue. “When teenagers and young adults with autism enter adulthood and age out of many of the services designed to help them, they often are anxious about how to handle new adult responsibilities such as paying bills and filing taxes. These findings highlight the importance of incorporating financial management into early education to empower young adults with autism.” (Cheak-Zamora, et al., 2017).

How to Help Teens with Autism with Money Management Skills

So now that we know that these skills are important to learn, how do we help them learn money management skills? First of all, let’s figure out what skills are needed to learn in order to have a better understanding of money management skills. There are a ton of skills encompassing money management as a whole.

There is a lot to learn when it comes to money management skills. I have created a list of skills that your teen will need to learn to become more independent with money management skills.

Tips for Teaching Money Management to Teens with Autism

MONEY MANAGEMENT SKILLS

  1. Manage spending
  2. Create a budget
  3. How to manage a checking account
  4. How to manage a savings account
  5. How to use an ATM
  6. How to write a check
  7. How to pay with dollar bills
  8. How to pay with debit/credit card
  9. Understanding how credit works
  10. How to save money
  11. How to pay bills
  12. Understand how taxes work
  13. Borrowing money-credit
  14. Using a credit card
  15. Controlling Debt
  16. Earning Money through a paycheck
  17. Investing Money
  18. Financial Services
  19. Understanding Insurance
  20. How to use Banking Services
  21. Taking out a loan
  22. Managing money in Employment
  23. Understanding Benefits
  24. Making Smart Money Decisions
  25. Shopping Wisely
  26. How to use coupons when shopping to save money
  27. Understanding how to live on your own and take care of money
  28. Understanding Cars and Loans
  29. How to protect your money
  30. Understanding rent payments or taking out a mortgage loan

Grab our FREE download below to have easy access to all of these money management skills in one place! 

Money Management Display Image for Printable

FREE TRAINING AND RESOURCES

While searching and learning more about money management skills, I came across some free training and resources that I wanted to share with you. Feel free to check out these free online trainings to see if they can help you teach some of the money management skills listed above!

  • The National Autistic Society has created a Free Online Training Module!  The module was created to assist learners to recognize their strengths as well as the challenges they may experience with managing their money. It shares real-life experiences of autistic people about the sorts of difficulties they encounter, and how they successfully manage their money.
  • Practical Money Skills has tons of free resources and lesson plans for all ages and for special needs. Check out the FREE Lesson Plans here! 
  • NEFE’s High School Financial Planning Program® (HSFPP) is a turnkey financial literacy program specifically focused on basic personal finance skills that are relevant to the lives of teens.
  • Hands on Banking offers Free Online Course for Elementary, Middle school, and high school grades. You can check out the free courses here.
  • FamilyEducation.com has some short and easy to read articles on a range of money management topics for teens. You can check them out here.
  • If your teen is having a hard time with understanding the cost of things or how to spend their money you could try using Jump Start Reality Check. This is an online quiz they can take to help them understand a ballpartk relationship between their expenses and the income they will need to support their lifestyle.

 

Tips for Success with Money Management 

These are tips I have learned through personal experiences with my family or with clients and then additional strategies I have found through researching money management skills. 

Tips to help with money management through daily activities:

  1. Have them pay for items at the store
  2. Give them an allowance and save up for items to buy at the store
  3. Have them go to the bank with you and discuss how the bank works
  4. Help them open up a savings or a checking account
  5. Use workbooks to help teach about money skills
  6. Try using apps and online resources like the ones listed above to help teach money skills.
  7. Have them list out their wants and needs
  8. Look up the prices of their wants and needs to figure out if they have enough money or what they will need to earn.
  9. Talk about money habits such as helping them set up a budget.
  10. When you make a grocery list of items you need, have them go to the store with you to help you find them in the aisles and then show them the different prices of the same item. Help them learn which items are the best deals or bring along coupons and have them find the items they need to use the coupons.
  11. If they have a job where they are earning income talk to them about their paycheck. Help them understand their benefits and taxes.
  12. If you are working on understanding and paying bills, go through some common monthly bills such as housing, food, utilities so they can get an understanding of how much those items cost. Talk to them about ways you can pay those bills either online or by check in the mail.
  13. Help them organize their monthly income and expenses either on paper or on the computer.
  14. Practice paying with cash
  15. Save your receipts and practice reviewing the purchases. Practice adding up the totals of your receipts, especially if you pay with cash so that you can keep track of your spending.
  16. Use newspaper ads and grocery ads to work on finding coupons and finding specials on products that you need to purchase.

I hope you find some of these tips and strategies helpful along your journey to teaching money managmenet skills. Please feel free to add some additional tips or strategies you have found helpful in the comments below.

Are you looking for additional help and strategies to help teach life skills to individuals with autism?

Check out our new online course Learning Life Skills for a Purpose! We will teach you the step by step process of how to use task analysis and visual supports to help teach life skills to children, teens, and adults with autism. Plus we give you step by step resources to help get you started with specific skills!

You can learn more about the course here!   

Check out the amazing resources you get when you enroll in the course!

Life Skills Ideas Course Display Image

Learning Life Skills for a Purpose Life Skills Checklist template display image

Life skills course workbook display image
Progress Monitoring charts life skills course display image

Check out Learning Life Skills for a Purpose Online Course Here!

 Final Thoughts on Teaching Money Management Skills

There are a lot of little skills to learn when teaching money management skills as a whole. It can feel overwhelming when thinking of the big picture, but my advice would be to start with one small skill and build from there. Try to go with your teens’ interests and try to build on the skills from there. For example, if they have a big interest in a specific item such as a video game or some candy they really enjoy eating start by working on having them save up money to purchase those items. Find some simple chores around the house that they could help you with to start to earn some money and see if they can help pay for those items at the store. If they are further along with their skills, have them go to the bank with you so they can try to learn and experience what you need to do at the bank.

Each individual is unique and is at different learning stages when it comes to money management skills. Take a look at our list of skills to learn and try to figure out what specific skill you can try to teach.

I also wanted to share another resource that I came across when teaching life skills. Autism Speaks has designed a Community-Based Skills Assessment.  This assessment was developed for Autism Speaks through a contract with Virginia Commonwealth University’s Rehabilitation Research and Training Center.

The Community-Based Skills Assessment helps parents and professionals assess the current skill levels and abilities of students with autism beginning at age 12. The results will help you develop a unique and comprehensive plan.

The tool is divided into three levels based on age. Eight areas of functional life skills will be assessed:

  • Career path and employment
  • Self-determination/advocacy
  • Health and safety
  • Peer relationships, socialization and social communication
  • Community participation and personal finance
  • Transportation
  • Leisure/recreation
  • Home living skills

The assessment uses both observation and interviews to measure the individual’s knowledge, skills and behaviors.

You can learn more about the Community-Based Skills Assessment Here. 

Additional Money Management Resources

The Autism Awareness Centre has an excellent blog post with some more tips on how to teach money management for independent living with autism. 

Here is the link to the research article mentioned above called Financial Capabilities Among Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder if you would like to look into it further.

Friendship Circle has an article with 5 ways to Teach Money Management to Older Children with Special Needs you could check out.

Other Blog Posts you may find helpful

Evidence-Based Practices for Individuals with Autism

How to Help Teens with Autism with Organization Skills

The Best Functional Life Skills Resources for Individuals with Autism

How to Teach Kitchen Safety Skills for Teens with Autism

Where to Start when Teaching Life Skills to Teens with Autism

References:

Nancy C. Cheak-Zamora, Michelle Teti, Clark Peters, Anna Maurer-Batjer. Financial Capabilities Among Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 2017; 26 (5): 1310 DOI: 10.1007/s10826-017-0669-9

University of Missouri-Columbia. (2017, April 17). Money a barrier to independence for young adults with autism: Researchers suggest parents, caregivers and financial institutions can play a role in helping young adults with autism improve financial literacy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 13, 2019 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170417155019.htm

Tips for Teaching Money Management to Teens with Autism

 

Evidence-Based Practices for Individuals with Autism

Evidence-Based Practices for Individuals with Autism

Evidence-Based Practices for Individuals with Autism

Today I wanted to share with you evidence-based practices for individuals with autism. As an occupational therapist, it is important for me to stay up to date about what strategies are effective when working with children, teens, and adults with autism. Below I will share what I have learned when researching about evidence-based practice strategies for individuals with autism.

Evidence-Based Practices for Individuals with Autism

What is Evidence-Based Practice?

Evidence-Based Practices are intervention and instructional practices or programs that have scientific evidence that shows that they are effective.

Through my research, I found out that the National Standards Project and the National Professional Development Center on ASD (NPDC), conducted systematic reviews and identified focused intervention practices that are evidence-based. These reviews provide a basis for teachers and clinicians to make decisions about intervention and service practices based on science.

It is important to note that having the information about which practices are evidence-based is a starting place for treatment or instruction, but as practitioners and professionals we must also use our professional expertise in selecting the practices based on the individual characteristics, family priorities, and context.

There are 27 Evidence-Based Practices for Individuals with Autism

An amazing resource was created by the NPDC called AFIRM. This is an online training module that they designed to help educate professionals and practitioners that provides information about the 27 Evidence-Based Practices that the NPDC has identified.

What are the 27 Evidence-Based Practices for Individuals with Autism?

  • Antecedent-based Intervention
  • Cognitive Behavioral Intervention
  • Differential Reinforcement
  • Discrete Trial Training
  • Exercise
  • Extinction
  • Functional Behavior Assessment
  • Functional Communication Training
  • Modeling
  • Naturalistic Intervention
  • Parent Implemented Interventions
  • Peer-Mediated Instruction and Intervention
  • Picture Exchange Communication System
  • Pivotal Response Training
  • Prompting
  • Reinforcement
  • Response Interruption and Redirection
  • Scripting
  • Self-Management
  • Social Narratives
  • Social Skills Training
  • Structured Play Groups
  • Task Analysis
  • Technology-aided Instruction and Intervention
  • Video Modeling
  • Visual Supports

Check out the FREE Training Modules with AFIRM HERE!

These modules will provide you with information about each teaching strategy and how you can use these in your practice.

What Evidence-Based Strategy do you find the most helpful in your practice?

I would love to know in the comments below if you have heard of this online training and if there is a specific evidence-based strategy you like to use in your practice? What one do you want to learn more about?

As an occupational therapist, I have loved using Task Analysis and Visual Supports when helping to teach life skills!

Are you looking for additional help and strategies to help teach life skills to individuals with autism?

Check out our new online course Learning Life Skills for a Purpose! We will teach you the step by step process of how to use task analysis and visual supports to help teach life skills to children, teens, and adults with autism. Plus we give you step by step resources to help get you started with specific skills!

You can learn more about the course here!   

Check out the amazing resources you get when you enroll in the course!

Life Skills Ideas Course Display Image

Learning Life Skills for a Purpose Life Skills Checklist template display image

Life skills course workbook display image
Progress Monitoring charts life skills course display image

Check out Learning Life Skills for a Purpose Online Course Here!

Evidence-Based Practices for Individuals with Autism

References:

Odom, S. L. & Hume, K. A. (2017, November 28). Use of Evidence-Based Practices. Retrieved from https://researchautism.org/use-of-evidence-based-practices/

Additional Resources:

Use of Evidence-based Practices

 

How to Help Teens with Autism with Organization Skills

How to Help Teens with Autism with Organization Skills

how to help your teen with autism become more organized

*Affiliate Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link. 

 How to Help Teens with Autism Become More Organized

This is a question I hear from my readers and on the internet a lot. Do you have any tips on how I can help my teen become more organized? He is constantly losing his homework and his room is so messy. He doesn’t know how to find things in his bedroom and always needs my help. Is there any way that I can help him become more organized to find things on his own??

I decided I wanted to look more into these questions and see what information I could find as it relates to organizational strategies and autism. I am not an expert in this area, but I wanted to share with you resources and information I found while looking up information about organization and executive function skills. I know these skills have a huge impact on their everyday life skills. I did my best to find helpful tips and strategies as well as include tips and advice from autistic adults.

 

Why Organization can be Difficult to Learn for Teens with Autism

Some individuals with autism may have difficulty with cognitive function skills. They may have difficulty with processing information, problem-solving, coming up with solutions, and predicting consequences of an action. They can have difficulty thinking ahead to the future, so if you tell them a date or time to remember in the future, they may have difficulty remembering it. They may also have difficulty understanding the concept of time. If your teen is struggling with any of these areas, they may also have difficulty with organizational skills. 

It is important to note, that not all individuals with autism will struggle with executive function and organizational skills. 

What is Executive Function?

Executive Functions are a set of cognitive processes that help all of us to:

  • Plan and organize daily tasks
  • Be flexible between focusing on a task and then shifting our attention to performing another task
  • Multitasking
  • Manage time-constrained activities
  • Remember things in our mind for a short duration (working memory)
  • Control our impulses
  • Prioritize what is important in our day
  • Monitor ourselves with self-awareness
  • Initiate a plan (knowing when to start an activity) 

This information was obtained from https://researchautism.org/understanding-executive-functions/

Teens with autism mature at a slower pace in executive skills

“Teens with autism mature at a slower pace in executive skills. They may have particular trouble with flexibility, organization, initiating activities and working memory. In kids with an autism spectrum disorder, cognitive flexibility is the standout problem for them and seems to remain a problem as they get older,” (Rosenthal, et.al 2013).

So how can we help them improve with their executive function skills and organization skills?

 Tips for Success with Organization 

Now that we know what executive function skills are, what strategies can we use to help them with these skills? These are tips I have learned through personal experiences with my family or with clients and then additional strategies I have found through research. 

  • Figure out if these skills are important to them: Figure out if them being unorganized is a priority for them. If losing their homework or having a dirty room is not a priority to them, then they will most likely not want to work with you to improve in this area.  If this is the case, then you may need to wait until they are ready to work on this skill or figure out a way to talk to them about why these skills are important.
  • Get an understanding of their needs and work with them together: Before starting any plan of how to help, you need to have a clear picture of what their needs are in order to help them. What specific thing are they having a hard time figuring out?
  • Make a plan: Start with one specific task and make a plan. Write out the plan on paper or on your phone to keep track of what you did and how it worked. That way you have a way to reflect on what is working well and not so well.
  • Make Lists: Find a visual way to help remember things: You could use written lists or checklists, or use sticky notes to place on mirrors or outside of doors to help give reminders.
  • Find ways to use reminders that work for your teen: this could be alarm reminders set on their phone or iPad or a clock. You could use a watch that goes off at specific times for reminders. Or you could also use a planner or calendar.
  • Visual Supports: We kind of already talked about this above, but setting up visual supports can really help. These can include a to-do list, calendars, planners, real objects, step by step instructions, or labels to help organize.
  • Set up the environment for success: If there is a specific area of the home or a specific area at school you are wanting to help them organize think about how you can set up that space to make things as simple and easy for them to organize or put things away. Work with the teen in this process though, because you need to use a system that works for them. Everyone is different and has different ideas on what works for them. When we organized the laundry room area for my brother to allow him more independence to help put towels and certain clothes away, we used baskets where he could see into them so he could easily sort and figure out what goes where.
  • Social Stories: Social stories can be used to help talk about different social situations when it comes to being organized. Such as remembering your homework, cleaning your room, keeping a clean desk and locker at school. 
  • Start Thinking in Questions: I learned this technique from myaspergerschild.com after learning her strategies for organization. This technique makes sense to me because I personally do this myself. I am always asking myself questions throughout the day so that I don’t forget things. This is something that you may need to teach to others as this may not come easy to them.  She suggested you start by practicing by saying the questions out loud as they come up and you think about them. 
  • Be clear about expectations: This one is huge for me personally, when we are trying to learn something new and doing something that is hard for us we need to really be clear about our expectations. Don’t try to do too much at once. Think about one specific change that you can make to help with organization. The more you change the more you can start to feel overwhelmed and then you will be more likely to go back to your old habits or feel bad about yourself. You may get upset that you didn’t figure out a good technique to work on organization and executive function skills. 

Some helpful Tips and Resources from Autistic Adults on Organizational Strategies.

I have always wanted to have a better understanding of what it is like to have autism in order to better help my brother and the clients I was serving. As professionals and as parents we have a lot to learn about autism and now with the internet, there are so many more ways to learn and hear about autism through autistic adults. I am going to do my best to help provide you with opportunities to learn from autistic adults. 

Below you will find either blog posts or videos from autistic adults with information about organization strategies.

Autistic Mama has a blog post with 3 super helpful tips for executive function tips for autistic adults. She also has a free download with10 additional free tips! Check out her post Doable Executive Functioning Tips for Autistic Adults here!  

The Aspie World has a YouTube Channel where he explains a lot of topics about his life with Aspergers. He has a great video about Time Management. You can check out the YouTube Video Here.

He has another video with 7 Time Management Tips you can check that out here

Autistic Not Weird has a great post about Growing Up Autistic. It is not specifically geared towards organization skills, but it has great advice for teenagers with autism. Check it out here!

Some Helpful Products to Teach Executive Functioning and Organization Skills

Your Therapy Source has created an Executive Functioning Resource that is a digital workbook that is a step by step guide to help boost your student’s working memory, impulse control, focus, emotional control, organization, planning, and self-monitoring!

Smart but Scattered Teens: The Executive Skills Program for Helping Teens Reach Their Potential by Richard Guare, Peg Dawson, and Colin Guare created an awesome resource!  This positive guide provides a science-based program for promoting teens’ independence by building their executive skills–the fundamental brain-based abilities needed to get organized, stay focused, and control impulses and emotions.

 Final Thoughts on Organization tips 

Organization skills are a higher level skill and it will take time to learn these skills and find a process that works for the teen you are working with. Have patience and understanding as they are trying to find a strategy that works for them. Things will hopefully go better when you can stay calm when working with them to find strategies that work for them.

One final thought, there is no specific timeline for teens to learn specific skills and understand that it is a process and everyone learns different skills at different rates and times. Autistic Mama has a great article explaining how no one knows your autistic child’s future. 

Additional Resources for Organizational Strategies and Tips for Teens with Autism 

Information from the National Autistic Society about Organization, Sequencing and prioritizing. 

Helping your Child with Autism Get Organized video on YouTube by Autism Grown Up

Autism in the Teen Years: What to expect, how to help by Marina Sarris at the Interactive Autism Network 

Here is an amazing list of Actually Autistic blogs that you can check out if you would like to learn more about autism through their point of view. https://anautismobserver.wordpress.com

Teaching Organizational Skills by Diane Adreon M.A. and Heather Willis PsyD. from the Autism Support Network

Getting Your Life Organized from Autism-Help.org

Organization Skills for Children with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism by myaspergerschild.com

Let me know in the comments below what tips and resources you find helpful or if there is anything else I should add to the list!

How to help teens with autism with organization skills

References:

Rosenthal, M., Wallace, G.L., Lawson, R., Wills, M.C., Dixon, E., Yerys, B.E. & Kenworthy, L. (2013) Impairments in real-world executive function increase from childhood to adolescence in autism spectrum disorders. Neuropsychology. 2013 Jan;27(1):13-8. View abstract

Free Resources for Teaching Personal Hygiene Cares

Free Resources for Teaching Personal Hygiene Cares

Free Resources for Teaching Personal Hygiene Cares

I get so many questions about how to help with personal hygiene cares and I wanted to put together a list of FREE resources available for you to look at and use. Below you will find a list of FREE Resources and Videos available for you to help teach these skills for individuals with autism.

Free Teaching Resources for Personal Hygiene Cares

Free Sensory Strategies Personal Hygiene Cares Toolkit 

Before you check out the other free resources below you should check out our FREE Sensory Strategies for Personal Hygiene Cares Toolkit!

Personal Hygiene Sensory Strategies Toolkit #sensory

 

Free Personal Hygiene Resources!

Free Washing My Hands Visual Sequencing Cards by Learning for a Purpose at Teachers Pay Teachers

Personal Hygiene and Teenagers with Auitsm Spectrum Disorder by raisingchildren.net.au

Personal Hygiene Teaching Resources for Special Needs Students by galleonsupplies.co.uk

A Free Social Story about Taking Care of Myself by Katie Peterson at Teachers Pay Teachers

Free Social Stories for supporting Personal Hygiene and Self-Care Skills at tes.com

A Free Social Story about Boogers by Occupational Therapy Resources by Allison at Teachers Pay Teachers

Washing My Hands Adapted Book by Chalkboard Superhero at Teachers Pay Teachers

Teaching Personal Hygiene to Children with Auitsm-Free visual story by Autism Spectrum Teacher

Are you looking for additional help and strategies to help teach life skills to individuals with autism? Check out our new online course Learning Life Skills for a Purpose! We will teach you the step by step process of how to use task analysis and visual supports to help teach life skills to children, teens, and adults with autism. Plus we give you step by step resources to help get you started with specific skills!

You can learn more about the course here!   

Check out the amazing resources you get when you enroll in the course!

Life Skills Ideas Course Display Image

Learning Life Skills for a Purpose Life Skills Checklist template display image

Life skills course workbook display image
Progress Monitoring charts life skills course display image

Check out Learning Life Skills for a Purpose Online Course Here!

 

Below is a list of Free videos you can find on YouTube about Personal Hygiene Cares

Ending the Hygiene Struggle by Asperger Experts on YouTube

Video Explaining Hygiene Help for Autism Spectrum Children and Teens by Barbara Lester on YouTube

Tips for Personal Hygiene-Real Life Tips for Kids with Autism by Children’s Specialized Hospital on YouTube

Teens and Hygiene From Autism Spectrum Therapies on YouTube

Teaching Personal Hygiene-Life Skills by Jacob Vlogs on YouTube

Let me know in the comments below if these were helpful for you, or if there are some other resources I should add.

Free Teaching Resources for Personal Hygiene Cares